Sir, - Once again we are being subjected to a fireman's strike in pursuit of a totally unrealistic 40pc pay claim.

At the beginning of the dispute, I, like most people in the country, were unaware of all of the aspects of a fireman's job. However, all that has changed.

After watching interviews held in fire stations on TV we have all seen rest rooms equipped with wide screen TVs, snooker tables, table tennis tables, dart boards, fully equipped gyms and music centres. Not only this, we learn that firemen are paid to sleep at work. How many other workers in the UK can claim these facilities as well as a pension to die for?

The answer is none.

In addition, we have learned that our firemen have double the pay of those in Italy and a third more than firemen in France. As regards to numbers of firemen per capita, there is one fireman for every 2,000 people in Germany, one for every 1,600 in France and one for every 1,100 in Britain. Hardly undermanned in Britain are we?

The reason why many firemen have extra jobs is because, unlike the rest of the working population, they have time to do so when working only four days a week.

Also, the claim that they risk their lives every day is misleading. It is a fact that they can sometimes encounter life-threatening situations, for which they are trained, at some time during their career, but every day?

I began the first ten years of my career working down a mine during which time on four separate occasions I sustained injuries at the coal-face which resulted in a total of ten weeks off work.

There is not a more unpleasant or dangerous job in Britain than working at a coal face, but it would be absolutely ridiculous if I were to claim that I "risked my life" every day when going down the mine.

Like most jobs, a fireman's is quite easy to evaluate. What are the necessary academic qualifications for entry into the fire service? What is the technical content and intensity of the training? In other words, how would they compare with an engineering technician who requires six GCSEs (including maths and science) to get employed on a four-year apprenticeship by the end of which he/she has to gain a BTEC HNC which is the equivalent to a first year BSc degree. And this to earn £20,000 per year.

Yes, the firemen deserve a worthy pay rise but unfortunately they have been badly led when asking for 40pc.


Mill Lane,


Community failed

Sir, - My wife and I have just returned from a meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in Hawes. A well-supported petition was presented in support of the local man ,featured in your pages, who wished to convert a barn into a dwelling for his family.

The feeling of outrage at the treatment of this family was clearly displayed with the potential for a rift developing between this Dales community and the national park authority.

We are all aware of the danger of setting a precedent by allowing development on an open field site. The national park is well endowed with holiday cottages, caravan parks and art-craft outlets, whereas many villages are almost bereft of permanent residents. Local people cannot be persuaded that leisure outlets should be given precedence over their housing requirements.

We need the infrastructure of working people with the attendant schools, health services, small shops, churches and chapels. The national park should be perceived as an integral and supportive part of this rather than a bureaucratic body imposing its will from afar.


Barn End,



Sir, - I was shocked to read in the D&S that a barn could be made into a holiday cottage, but not a home for a family. 43 people left Hawes lately. It is time the knowledgeable twits had the skids under them and sent packing, or do they own the barn?

Hawes needs young families as all the rural areas, along with good public transport.

Maybe Mr Blair could divert some cash (if Mr Bush agrees) for rural Britain instead of rural Iraq.


Oak Tree Drive,


Not true

Sir, - It is no good Leyburn Town councillors blaming anyone else but themselves for the additional audit bill, over the purchase of Thornborough Hall from Richmondshire District Council.

I recently attended at the District Auditor's Office in Leeds to question blame being put onto residents by the Town Council and was reassured residents are not at fault in anyway.

It was explained that an additional audit had to take place, because of the considerable purchase by the Town Council. The extra cost supports residents' warnings that the purchase is a burden on ratepayers. There is not doubt about that. The rates have gone up.

That it can be a successful and profitable enterprise may be possible and no one wishes it to be otherwise.


High Green,

Catterick Village

Heartfelt thanks

Sir, - May I please take the opportunity of using the pages of this newspaper to acknowledge the many messages and letters of condolence received by my family following the death of my son, James, in a road accident just before Christmas.

During some very difficult days, we were constantly supported by the knowledge that the thoughts and prayers of so many people were with us - in many cases people who knew us only through my work or who wrote as a spontaneous example of sympathy.

The level of generosity and kindness demonstrated by so many people towards us was breathtaking. We will never forget it, or how fortunate we are to live in such a wonderful community.

Once again, many thanks to you all.


Deputy Chief Constable, North Yorkshire Police

Newby Wiske