Boy, 7, Dies in Blaze as Army Rolls out Green Goddesses
Madeley, Gavin, Daily Mail (London)
Byline: GAVIN MADELEY
A SCHOOLBOY died in a house fire after screaming at neighbours that he was too scared to leave his burning bedroom.
Coming in the week of the firefighters' strike, the tragedy will chill the hearts of parents up and down the land.
Firefighters were unable to save seven-year-old Tommy Allan, despite arriving at his home in Markinch, Fife, within four minutes of the alarm being raised.
But after 6pm tonight parents in a similar situation could face an agonising wait for a 1950s Green Goddess, crewed by soldiers and with a top speed of 40mph, to arrive at the scene.
The boy's mother Tracy, 25, was able to drag his brother Dylan, five, from the house after the blaze broke out in the boys' room shortly after 9.30pm on Monday evening, but could not reach Tommy.
Witnesses described hearing his frantic screams and told how one neighbour from the flat below shouted at the terrified boy to run to the door where he could grab him. Weeping, he shouted back that he was 'too scared' and refused to leave the room. The neighbour entered the upper flat in a bid to rescue Tommy, but was beaten back by the smoke.
Firefighters entered the house wearing breathing apparatus and found the youngster's body still in his bedroom. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
His friend Andrew Tasker, 15, said: 'I saw Dylan and Tracy standing in the garden with towels wrapped around them.
'They were both crying and Tracy was in a really bad way.
Dylan kept telling people there had been sparks coming from the Hoover.
Tommy was his best friend as well as his brother. They were joined at the hip and really looked out for each other. It is heartbreaking.'
The tragedy gave a vivid indication of the chaos likely to ensue once the strike gets under way.
Fire chiefs admit they have no idea how many firemen will be available for duty - there are 800 retained firefighters in Scotland, but it is not clear how many will defy the strike.
Four of the country's eight brigades - Fife, Highlands and Islands, Strathclyde and Lothian and Borders - say they will not know how many retained firefighters will answer callouts until the first 48-hour stoppage begins.
The Army's dilapidated Green Goddess fire engines were rolled out across Scotland last night in response to the strike action. In a frightening reminder of their unreliabilityrush-hour traffic ground to a halt outside Redford Barracks in Edinburgh yesterday after one of the machines broke down seconds after setting off.
The ageing vehicle spluttered to a halt, forcing embarrassed squaddies to try to restart it with a hand crank. They eventually had to call out an Army mechanic.
Scotland will be relying on 107 Green Goddesses, compared with the 611 regular fire engines which are usually available. …