Well, this certainly took a turn. In the early morning hours of February 21, firefighters from the Pewsey Fire Station in southwest England were called to a barn fire, where they rescued two sows and 18 piglets from a blaze started by 60 tons of hay. Six months later (as in, a few days ago), the same firefighters grilled and ate sausages made from those very same pigs that they saved. (And if any of them took a bite, gestured to the grill and said "That'll do, pig," we might just drown in our tears).
Rachel Rivers, the manager of the farm where the fire was successfully extinguished, had no problem delivering the sausages to the fire station herself. "I gave those animals the best quality of life I could ever give until the time they go to slaughter and they go into the food chain," she told the BBC. "You do feel sad at the end of it… but to bring them down for [the firefighters] was a good way of saying 'thank you'."
The Pewsey Fire Station posted a picture of the sausages still smoking from the grill, and said that they were delighted to enjoy "the fruits of their labours." This did not go well, and the photo was quickly deleted from Facebook, replaced with an apology for "causing offense to some." That apology came less than a day after a fire station spokesperson told the BBC, "We can tell no porkies, the sausages were fantastic." ('Porkies' is a variation of 'pork pies,' which means 'lies' in Cockney rhyming slang.)
The reaction to the firefighters' lunch has been unsurprisingly—but passionately—mixed. Some people have pointed out that the piglets were being raised to become sausages or bacon anyway, while others have called the Fire Station "insensitive and unprofessional" for grilling these particular pigs.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), whose mouths collectively water at the smallest possibility for meat-based controversy, are appalled. "What if these firefighters had 'saved' a human child or a dog? Pigs feel fear and pain in just the same way as they do," PETA spokesperson Mimi Bekhechi told BBC West. "When the emergency services rescue animals, PETA thanks them with vegan chocolates, not the animals' barbecued flesh." (PETA will also be sending the fire station a package of Linda McCartney-branded vegan sausages. No, really.)
Louise Knox, a spokesperson for the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service—which the Pewsey Fire Station is a part of—told MUNCHIES that the service is "making no further comment on the story." The Pewsey Fire Station echoed that sentiment, also declining further comment.
Maybe we're all due for a rewatch of Babe right about now.