Oddly Enough

Fireman drives trucks 20 years without license

TOKYO (Reuters) - A fire-fighter in Japan lost his job after city officials found out he had been driving ambulances and firetrucks for over 20 years without a driver’s license, an official in Takaoka City, central Japan, said on Tuesday.

The case came to light when the fire-fighter in his 40s, who had been working for the city for over 25 years, hesitated to show his driver’s license during a regular inspection last week, said Shigeru Sawasaki, a Takaoka City official.

“He was acting awkward when the inspection took place on the 5th,” Sawasaki said. “And when the inspector took the driver’s license and checked, it belonged to a family member.”

The fire-fighter, whose name the city declined to announce due to privacy concerns, had been bringing in his father’s license and showing it to the inspector while hiding the photo with his fingers, Sawasaki said.

The monthly inspection of driver’s licenses started last year and before that, the fire-fighter had filed a fake license registration number to Takaoka City in 1981, Sawasaki added.

Between April 2003 and June 2008, the fire-fighter, who told city officials he had gone to a driving school but failed the writing exam, drove ambulances 309 times and firetrucks 97 times, Sawasaki said.

“In terms of his driving, he has not been in any accidents whatsoever,” Sawasaki said, adding that there had been no problem with his work attitude either.

“This is a misconduct where no excuses can be made to the citizens. We are sorry to fail the citizens’ expectations,” Keiichiro Tachibana, the mayor of Takaoka City, was quoted by Sawasaki as saying.

The fire-fighter appeared at the police station after he was fired and is now being questioned by the police, Sawasaki said.

Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Jerry Norton