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Luton lollipop man sacked for stopping fire engine

Crossing outside William Austin school in Luton
Image caption The fire service said the engine was held up on St Ethelbert Avenue, Luton

A lollipop man who stopped a fire engine on its way to a 999 call has been sacked.

Firefighters had to physically remove the man from a crossing outside William Austin Junior School in Luton as he continued to help children cross.

Luton Borough Council said the school crossing patrol officer had been dismissed for gross misconduct.

It had initially suspended the man after last month's incident was highlighted by the Luton News.

The fire engine was on its way to an out-of-control bonfire on St Ethelbert Avenue, at about 15:30 BST on 13 April.

'Car crash'

Eyewitness Jacqui Brittain said she was "sorry" the man had lost his job but said the decision was "justified".

Image caption Jacqui Brittain said firefighters had to escort the lollipop man from the road

She said she saw the man help a group of children cross the road while the fire engine was approaching with its lights on, but then, to her surprise, he started a second crossing.

"Four of five firemen got out of the vehicle and escorted him off the road," she said.

"It was like watching a car crash. I am sorry he lost his job. It is a shame, but based on the incident that day it was justified.

"There was nothing else they could do. Nobody has been out there since. It has been without a crossing patrol for almost a month.

Image caption The fire engine was stopped near William Austin Junior School

"I did the job for 20 years. It does need someone. It is dangerous."

The incident was recorded on CCTV.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has been asked to comment on the action taken against the lollipop man.

In the aftermath of the incident, it said the lollipop man had ushered "children and their parents across the road several times in front of the fire appliance".

"A firefighter spoke to the crossing guard and moved the remaining pedestrians out of the road before assisting other vehicle drivers to clear a path so we could continue to the incident," a spokesman said.

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