FRESH details have emerged over why firefighters tackling York's biggest fires in recent memory had to rely on a member of the public for refreshment.

As reported in The Press this weekend, fire crews spent hours dealing with the fire that gutted the B&M store at Clifton Moor.

One person who claimed he was one of the firefighters who worked to tackle the blaze said most fire engines and appliances were equipped with a kettle for heating water for dry food packs, and bottled water to keep crews fed and hydrated, but in the early hours of Sunday, crews needed hot drinks.

He said: "All tea and coffee is usually put on pumps at crews expense. But on this occasion no tea or coffee was on the appliances.

"It was nearly 3am and crews only had £20 on them. The welfare unit was not provided throughout the night, so they went to McDonald's as it was 24 hours, and asked if we could have 16 drinks, teas or coffees for that amount, but were told we would have to pay the full £25.80, so no drinks were bought. Someone in the restaurant overheard the conversation, and turned up with the drinks she bought herself."

Another person claiming to be a firefighter for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted The Press to say it was "unacceptable that firefighters who attended the fire at B&M should be requesting free drinks from staff at McDonald’s", and some firefighters were "upset that the management have not made this clear or apologised for the firefighters’ behaviour".

On Sunday, a spokesman for McDonald’s said fire crews should have been given free refreshments for their efforts.

He said: "We value the fantastic work of our emergency services and thank the individuals that dedicate their lives to protecting our local community.

"On this occasion, we would like to apologise to the firefighters who bravely tackled last night’s fire. They should have been provided with free refreshments on the night as a small recognition for their efforts. McDonald’s will of course be happy to reimburse the member of public involved and we will be in touch directly with our local fire and rescue service."

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said the matter was being investigated by the service.

The spokeswoman said: "We do not have a policy of requesting free refreshments from other businesses. We provide refreshments to staff through provisions on fire engines or through the attendance of the welfare unit.

"We have a welfare unit which provides refreshments to our firefighters at large incidents and this welfare unit did attend the incident at Clifton Moor, York, on Saturday evening. Refreshment provisions are also available on fire engines. The welfare unit was in attendance at the incident for several hours. It was stood down once the incident was scaled down."