There was an update to this story later in the week on YorkMix. Read it here
A retired York firefighter who is travelling to Ukraine to help their fire service was dismayed to be charged £60 by an airline to take his life-saving equipment.
Bruce Reid, who has over 30 years’ firefighting experience, got in touch with the Ukrainian Embassy after the Russians invaded to see if his skills could be put to use.
He used to be a watch manager in York and now lives in Knaresborough.
He booked his own flights to Poland, where he could travel to the border with Ukraine.
Despite retiring two years ago, he wanted to use his skills to aid people. He told YorkMix that he wasn’t going to fight the Russians, but wanted to help the Ukrainian fire and rescue service keep going as more of their regulars joined the army.
Bruce told YorkMix: “My own personal stuff was all in my hand luggage and I explained to the man on the gate what the big bag was for.
“It needed to go in the aircraft hold and I said all that was in it was for fighting fires.
“But I was told that would be just short of £60 which was a bit disappointing really.”
Bruce said that there were hardly any passengers on the flight to Krakow which left Leeds Bradford yesterday (Sunday) and he felt insisting on the extra fee given his mission was Ryanair being a bit “cheap”
North Yorkshire’s branch of the Fire Brigade Union tweeted to say:
Ryanair haven’t responded to the incident yet
Bruce told YorkMix he wasn’t sure how long he would be in Ukraine but has reassured his family that he will only carry out his duty as a firefighter. He has no plans to fight alongside their soldiers as other UK citizens have said they will do.
“I don’t want to have a crash course in the use of an AK47,” he said. “But if I can get to a fire station in Ukraine and help them then I might be doing my bit.”
In 2015, Mr Reid was awarded an MBE for his services both as a firefighter and for charity.