Spanish firefighter fired after filling swimming pool with water from fire engine

The authorities acted after receiving an anonymous tip off

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A firefighter in southern Spain has been dismissed after using a fire engine to fill up his private swimming pool.

As much of the country swelters in temperatures well above 30C for several weeks, Juan Pimentel, a veteran of 30 years with the Andalusia fire brigade, has been sacked for what officials described as a “very serious” indiscretion.

The authorities acted after receiving an anonymous tip off, which indicated that Mr Pimentel had used the water in a fire engine to fill up the pool at his house in Ronda, near Málaga. “The same day we received the letter, we also heard rumours that Pimentel was using water from a fire truck to fill his pool,” Manuel Marmolejo, head of the Málaga provincial fire department, told El Pais newspaper.

Mr Pimentel was interviewed about the matter and later fired. The fire department said that, over several days, he had used the engine to fill his pool five times.

Mr Pimentel said that he was being unfairly treated and that he was not, in fact, trying to steal the water. “I am being hung out to dry for this,” he told El Pais, apparently without irony. “And discredited after a lifetime of service that is beyond reproach.”

He claims the fire engine had sprung a leak. “I made a mistake and will have to pay for it, but this isn’t that serious a matter,” he said. “I didn’t steal a truck or take money. There was no malicious intention. The truck was leaking and I just used water that would have been wasted.” He denied filling his pool more than once.

Mr Marmolejo, the departmental chief, questioned why the former firefighter had acted without reporting the leak to more senior officers.

While the tale is a personal problem for Mr Pimentel, and an embarrassment for the Málaga fire service, it does highlight a more serious problem.  Forest fires have already burned through thousands of hectares of land in Spain this year, and while Andalusia has not been as badly affected as other areas, it can lose large swathes of land to fires.

According to official figures, there has already been 6,749 fires across Spain this year, of which 4,688 destroyed at least one hectare.