SHEFFIELD fireman Phillip Smith is trained to save people from burning buildings and give first aid before ambulance crews arrive. So he was stunned to be told that, as a single parent, he could not provide proper supervision for his two sons at a city swimming pool.
Phillip and sons Jake, aged five, and Aiden, three, drove from Killamarsh to Hillsborough Leisure Centre - but were turned away from their favourite pool by reception staff because under-eights must be accompanied on a one-to-one basis by adults.
The 37-year-old, based at Mansfield Road fire station, said: "As a fireman, I'm highly trained and expected to be able to provide first aid at emergencies.
"To say I cannot cope with looking after my two sons at a swimming pool is just mad."
Phillip, who is separated from his sons' mother, said he believes the leisure centre is "discriminating against single parents".
He added: "A change of policy is in order. I do feel strongly about discrimination in any form.
"This policy limits the options of single parents to an unacceptable level when they have every right to take their kids swimming whenever any other parent might wish to go."
He added: "I discussed the situation at length with the duty manager - explaining that I am a firefighter and well able to supervise my own children.
"The manager refused to do anything but hide behind policy."
Phillip said he was told sessions were available for single parents with more than one child, where there is extra supervision available, but these were early in the morning at weekends, or during school hours in the week.
He said: "These sessions are out of reach for many single parents, myself included."
After being turned away Phillip took his sons to Ponds Forge instead, where they were allowed in.
Sheffield International Venues, which runs both venues, said different policies on parental supervision were in place at its pools "based on facilities present and a risk assessment".
A SIV spokeswoman said: "All three Sheffield International Venues with swimming pools follow recommendations from the Institute of Sport and Recreational Management regarding guidelines for parental accompaniment of young children."
She added: "At Ponds Forge, children under the age of eight years must be accompanied in the water at all times by a responsible person."
Children under the age of four must be accompanied by a responsible person on a one-to-one basis unless they are using the baby pool area only, when one adult is allowed to supervise two under fours. Children aged between four and seven years must be accompanied by a responsible person on a maximum two-to-one basis.
"Hillsborough Leisure Centre operates on a one-on-one basis for children under the age of eight, since there is no separate toddler pool. However, special sessions are held in off peak times where this rule is relaxed to make it accessible for lone and single parents and carers."