One for the Sheep

Pontycymmer Fire Station
Pontycymmer Fire Station

Back in the day when the Fire Brigade was just that, we of the Retained Fire Service used to have training sessions for shift workers on Wednesday mornings in Pontycymmer Fire Station yard. One morning we had just completed the particularly arduous drill of ‘slip and pitch to the 3rd floor and carry down’ (effectively put the extending ladder up to the third storey of the hose tower, and carry an unfeasibly heavy dummy to the ground.) We were enjoying an Àpres Rescue cigarette before leaving for work, when we heard a thud, and the unmistakeable sound of broken glass. Seconds later an overwrought young man came running down to us and declared that he needed our help!  On further enquiry it appeared that his Co-op delivery van had struck one of the many nomadic sheep that roamed the valley in those days. 

“It’s dead!” he kept repeating: “What shall I do?”.

We explained that the usual course of action was to take note of the sex and any earmarkings and  to inform the police, and a farmer would eventually come and shift it.

“But I can’t wait that long, I have deliveries to make, can’t you help?” he said.

One of our number pointed out that as we were the Fire Service and at this point as there was no actual fire, we could not be of assistance. This sent the poor driver into even more of a panic. Then taking pity, I threw him a box of matches and said

” Do yourself a favour, go back, set the animal on fire, dial 999 and we will be along in a jiffy.”

When this offer did not have the calming effect that we envisaged, we agreed that we would at least walk up to the crash site with the driver and inspect the victim. Just opposite Pontycymmer Police Station we found the stationary van complete with smashed headlight, but no sheep!  The driver was even more distraught at this point.

“It was lying right there, I saw it”, he said, “Where’s it gone”?

It did not take the combined genius of the assembly to solve the mystery. We all knew. The Garw sheep was a particularly tough animal and probably after the accident had come to, shook itself, and wandered off, oblivious of the chaos it had caused. We persuaded the driver to get back in his vehicle and say no more about the incident, leaving him to explain the broken headlight to his superiors.

Fire Practice at Sweet Wells circa 1955
Fire Practice at Sweet Wells circa 1955

Submitted by Gerald Jarvis

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