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In the face of industrial action by members of the armed forces, the government has announced that the Fire Service will, as an interimmeasure, carry out military operations in Iraq.

The army, who have demanded a 40% pay increase on the basis that their job has become rather more technical since 1945, will begin strike action next Thursday unless a compromise pay deal can be agreed in the meantime. It is understood that they will spend their time standing around little bonfires, rubbing their hands together and waving at passing vehicles who honk their horns at them.

Crack Fire Service personnel, highly trained in playing snooker, brewing tea and sliding down poles, are understood to be on standby to take up front line operations. Using their "red goddess" vehicles instead of tanks, they will race towards Iraqi lines and attempt to annoy the enemy into surrendering by making a lot of noise and spraying them with water.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has already stated that the Fire Service strike of last year proved that a vastly undermanned service with limited training and unsuitable equipment can perform the duties of a well-trained, well-equipped and well-manned professional force equally as efficiently and without loss of life.

When it was pointed out to him that the bright red fire engines might make an easy target for enemy fire, Mr. Blair said, "Never mind, we've got too many firemen as it is... er, is that camera running?"

Asked for his comment, Britain's partner in the coalition in the war against Iraq, US President George W. Bush, said "Ooh, can I have a go on the siren".

- Anon

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