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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 October 2007, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Firefighters face 'ladders ban'
Firefighters have been banned from using their ladders to take down festive bunting because it is deemed a health and safety risk.

In previous years, firefighters have helped remove decorations in the centre of Ampthill, Bedfordshire, after the town's Gala Day in July.

Three months on, the green and white bunting is still there.

The festival committee is now trying to find another way of removing the bunting before the winter.

Bedfordshire deputy chief fire officer Graeme Smith said: "It sounds like the world has gone mad.

"Firefighters will climb ladders to rescue people from burning buildings but not to remove bunting after a festival.

Close roads

"One is a 999 job where in order to save lives we will take calculated risks.

"The other is a property maintenance job which is covered by standard health and safety rules which we would have to abide by.

"That could mean closing the road and using a platform to reach the bunting.

"Unfortunately if we went down that route people might ask why we are paying firefighters to use our top level rescue equipment to remove a few flags, when a local contractor could do the job just as well."

Councillor Mark Smith said: "The festival committee has always appreciated fire crews' assistance in the past and is working towards getting it down another way."

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