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Laugh I Nearly Fell Of My Bike


Allegedly, a one time Chief Fire Officer of the London Fire Brigade (who was not overly popular with the troops) was called away from a grand function to attend a twenty pump fire in the ‘K’ Division. The ‘K’ Division comprised mainly of ex-county of Surrey Fire Brigade Stations, amalgamated with London at the inception of the Greater London Council in 1964. This same Chief Officer allegedly liked his ale!

Upon arrival at the said fire the Chief was amazed to see a fireman clad in full fire gear, merrily riding around the fire ground on a bicycle, completely oblivious to his own exalted presence. He challenged the man, “What do you think you are doing?” The man’s seemingly disrespectful and laconic reply of, “What does it look like I’m doing? I am riding my bike,” only served to exacerbate his already foul mood. In the Chief’s mind, this kind of behaviour could only mean one thing: the man had been drinking on duty!. It was not an offence to drink on duty in those days, indeed the Chief had allegedly being doing so himself that very evening. Albeit he had done so in the line of duty at a grand civic function. Chiefy was momentarily baulked at our hero’s off-hand devil may care attitude.. Of course, Chief Officers do not rise to their great rank without a modicum of deviousness. Turning to an aide, the Chief snapped, “Take that man’s name, he is on a charge for stealing that bicycle.”

Unfortunately, although he was the Chief Officer of the London Fire Brigade, he did not know all things. What he did not know was that the offending fireman had attended the fire on a hose lorry which originated from a ‘K’ Division Station. A hose lorry can carry up to a mile of hose, which when all laid out, can take a considerable length of time to walk along (to examine for leaks etc.). The Surrey Fire Brigade (unlike the London Fire Brigade) had very thoughtfully and considerately provided a bicycle to be carried on the hose lorry. The fireman could then use the bicycle to peruse the lengthy hose lines. Thus, it came about, that our bad tempered, bacchanal Chief Officer was intending to have the man charged under the discipline codes for riding an official fire brigade bike for an official fire brigade purpose – ‘hose lines the perusal of’. Again, this was hearsay but apparently the intrepid cyclist was heard to have said cheerfully, “Laugh? I nearly fell off my bike!”

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