Firefighters who turned up deliberately late to a burning pizza delivery company were reprimanded yesterday for making an ironic comment on their standard of service.
ProntoPizza of Balham, South London was burnt to the ground back in June despite being less than half a mile from Balham fire station. When the flames initially broke out in the kitchen back on a busy Friday evening, the manager Peter Annal immediately called 999 and requested the fire brigade. But fifteen minutes later, with the inferno spreading to the shopfront and the upstairs rooms, the pizza chefs and delivery drivers were surprised to see a florist suddenly arrive with a bunch of flowers.
‘This big burly bloke came with a load of lilies and violets. He was clearly a fireman but he said he was delivering the wedding bouquet we had ordered. It was like he was suppressing the giggles the whole time.’
Mr Annal urgently explained that he had in fact ordered a couple of fire engines and the fireman apologized and said he’d have to go back to the station. Thirty-five minutes later, with much of the downstairs now complete gutted, the fireman returned with a complete Ocado shopping delivery.
‘It was then that one of our drivers recognized him’ explained Mr Annal. ‘He said that he often delivered pizzas to him at the fire station, and that the firemen had been repeatedly irritated by late and incorrect orders.’ A desperate Mr Annal then called the local police station who listened to what had happened. The police then sent round a window cleaner, a central heating engineer and some cold garlic bread.
‘A number of fire engines did finally turn up about three hours after we had initially called them’ said Mr Annal. ‘But by then the whole building had burnt to the ground. And one of them kept saying ‘Sooo sorry we didn’t listen to what you actually asked for. We really must listen more carefully next time…’
Yesterday at South London Magistrates Court, six members of the Balham fire crew were found guilty of gross negligence and ordered by the judge to pay appropriate compensation. They were ordered to pay the pizza company a £1 voucher for taking longer than thirty minutes.