We are here to save lives, says Army chief

BY MATTHEW TAYLOR LIEUTENANT Colonel Dickie Davis says he is confident his men will be able to provide a "basic service to save lives."

But the man in charge of 22 Engineer Regiment, which is manning the Green Goddesses in West Yorkshire, warned he would be hard pressed to offer the same level of service as professional firefighters.

"We have carried out a lot of training and have worked closely with the fire brigade and the police and our plans are well advanced," said Lt Col Davis.

"You can always do more training but I am confident that the soldiers will do their best and will be able to offer a reasonable service to save lives, although it won't be the same as the firefighters provide."

Lt Col Davis admitted much of the equipment his men would be using was out-of-date.

"The Green Goddesses were built in 1953 and 1956 but for what we are doing – pumping water in a defensive firefighting mode – they are not bad."

He said the main improvement in cover during this strike compared with the dispute in 1977, was the inclusion of specially trained teams of professional army firefighters.

"We have 10 teams trained to use breathing apparatus from the RAF and the army," he said.

Lt Col Davis said one of his main concerns was malicious calls.

"I would appeal to everyone to only give true and accurate information because lives could be danger.

"They should also be more aware of fire prevention and think about having smoke alarms fitted, but if the worst does happen they should call 999 and we will respond to the best of our ability."