By Laura Neil
The Daily Star
CAMBRIDGESHIRE, England — An RAF serviceman who has worked as a fireman has been given the chop because he has been sent to Afghanistan.
Dedicated James Chalklin, 23, has been in the Royal Air Force since he was 18 years old.
The father-of-one, who was in the fire service for five years, had also volunteered as a retained firefighter for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service for the last 12 months.
James left his partner Toyah Hall, 23, and their five-month-old son, Riley-James, for Camp Bastion on Tuesday, where he will be stationed for the next four months.
But on the same day fire chiefs told James, who is based at RAF Honington, Suffolk, that he could not have unpaid leave.
Instead he must choose to either quit the fire service or be sacked.
His family say they are "outraged" James was left with little choice but to resign as a firefighter.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue yesterday said they made an error hiring James and have a policy not to take on military personnel.
Clear, but his father Brian, 50, who also served as a retained firefighter in Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambs, for more than 20 years, said James had always been "clear" he was in the RAF.
He said: "The whole situation is appalling. James has been a firefighter for five years and he became a retained firefighter to serve his local community.
"When he applied, he made it clear that he was in the RAF.
"It was when he asked for four months' unpaid leave to go to Afghanistan that the service started to make a fuss.
"Despite meetings with his bosses, James was told he should resign and that, if he didn't, he'd be sacked.
"We all told him to resign as we didn't want his future career affected."
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue assistant chief fire officer Neil Newberry said: "We have a policy of not employing military personnel as the periods of absence that they require make it hard to maintain an emergency service."
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