Now I’m the last man to stand in the way of someone earning a decent wage but those firefighters are getting right up my hooter.

How can they honestly expect a 40 per cent pay rise for sitting around playing pool all week and rescuing cats from trees? The odd chip pan fire and the occasional terrorist bombing hardly justifies 30 grand a year now does it?

Your average fireman’s average week may make him an expert at 13-card brag but it doesn’t make him a proper tradesman

Sparkies, chippies, builders and God’s own plumbers are time-served craftsmen who have honed their art over years of slavish public devotion and commitment to their art. Firemen are labourers. Admittedly they are labourers that I would be happy to call on in the unlikely event of my gaffe being on fire but essentially they are navvies in uniform.

Yet because they have mastered the art of turning on a hose and pointing foam at a fire they think they can hold the country to ransom. You’re not on, Fireman Sam.

And that’s another thing, name me a famous fireman. Go on. If you’ve come up with anyone other than Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb then chances are you are a fireman and you don’t count. Firemen aren’t famous because manual workers are ten a penny not 30 grand a year. Could they re-route an ABS sweep while no-hub clamping the outlet of the sweep to a drainage system? No way. Could I interrupt a game of rummy to turn on a hose? Oh yes, I think so.

My old gaffer always said to me that if you hired monkeys then it was perfectly okay to pay them peanuts. He knew there was no need to have a time-served artist stick his arm down the pan when there was an apprentice happy to get shite on his hands for £3.60 an hour. And if it’s true in plumbing then it’s true in life.

If Fireman Sam and his poker-playing pals want to retrain as surgeons or computer programmers then they’ll be entitled to whatever they can earn. But oh no, they cant on account of the fact that they are too thick. And more importantly it would mean giving up the brag school and not using lines about shiny helmets, poles and long hoses to women stupid enough to fall for anything in a uniform.

Anyway, personally I’ve always thought a well-ironed set of overalls much more fetching than any uniform.

Plumb on.

Peter Plumb

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