Anger after McDonald’s refused free drinks to firefighters tackling huge York blaze

Firefighters tackling the B&M blaze. Photographs: Richard McDougall
14 Oct 2018 @ 3.54 pm
| News

Firefighters battling the fierce blaze in Clifton Moor were refused free drinks by the nearby McDonald’s branch.

More than ten crews were involved in the major operation to contain and put out the intense fire at the B&M store on Saturday.

Part way through that operation, which lasted several hours, firefighters went to the McDonald’s branch to ask if they could supply some drinks.


Being in their full kit they had no money – and staff at the fast food restaurant wouldn’t supply them with the drinks without payment.

In the end two customers volunteered to pay, and bought a round of teas and coffees for the firefighters.

‘Absolutely disgraceful’

The fire lasted for several hours
The actions of McDonald’s were met with anger from many in York. David Green commented on Facebook: “That simple gesture of offering up a mere drink to the emergency services who are working sometimes in harrowing and difficult circumstances is something most of us would offer without thinking!

“Surely McDonald’s and other fast food outlets could do the same?”

Louise Wilson agreed: “Absolutely disgraceful behaviour from McDonald’s refusing to give the firefighters a drink for free. Even more shocking that they then accepted payment from the generosity of a member of the public who was more than willing to help out.”

“Shame on McDonalds but well done to the lady who came to the rescue. Our firefighters deserve to be treated well,” wrote Lesley Beer.

Firefighters who were at the scene have also commented. Steve Brown, a crew manager for North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, said: “I was one of the firefighters their last night, thank you to the lady and young man who brought us the teas and coffees, really appreciated.”

‘We apologise to the firefighters’

McDonald’s at Clifton Moor. Photograph © Google Street View
Others had sympathy for the predicament of the McDonald’s workers. Dorrie Partington said: “McDonald’s is a franchise.

“Usually the night staff are not management or people with any authority! Please understand that the decision to say no was likely nothing to do with callousness and everything to do with a young person too frightened to make that decision in fear of losing their job.”

John Atherton, who runs the franchise for several branches of York McDonald’s, including the one at Clifton Moor, apologised for what happened.

He told YorkMix:

  • 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 & rescue service.

Related YorkMix stories