A fire station in south-west London has become the first casualty of the hosepipe fines after continuing to breach the conditions laid down by the drought restrictions. ‘Despite numerous written and verbal warnings, the Richmond Fire Brigade have elected to ignore our prohibitions,’ said a spokesman for Thames Water. ‘Somewhere on our website we have been entirely clear about permissible usage, and nowhere does it permit the expenditure of thousands of gallons of water on the preservation of human life. We simply cannot be seen to condone this reckless abuse of a precious resource – the water they used to douse that primary school inferno last Wednesday could’ve replenished the pleasure lake at Kew Gardens twice over. We need to send out a clear message.’
The brigade, which allegedly also failed to wash the soot and human remains from their vehicles with a bucket and sponge, was reported for the breach by Mr and Mrs D Whitelaw of Marksbury Avenue. ‘It was sickening,’ said Patricia Whitelaw of the East Sheen Ladies Rotunda. ‘There they are, waggling their hoses all over the area. And there’s me with my herbaceous border withering daily. It’s an outrage.’
Mr Whitelaw was determined to see the perpetrators brought to justice after several calls to 999 were met with ‘insufficient concern’ and ‘a sorry example of customer service’. ‘I simply couldn’t allow this shambolic situation to continue – something had to be done,’ he said. ‘I had to demonstrate this chronic water-wasting first hand. While I pride myself in a nice line in firm but fair written complaints, nothing expresses civic duty like a Molotov cocktail. It certainly made the desk-Johnnies at Thames Water consumer services sit up and take notice. Or at least it will when the skin grafts have healed.’
The fire brigade issued a short statement last night by way of apology, denying any active participation in their thriving hanging baskets and assuring all local residents that blazes within the Thames Water jurisdiction would henceforth be dealt with using a watering can.