Residents of an Essex town have reacted angrily after local council officials installed what appears to be a ‘halal’ fire extinguisher in a popular woodland tourist spot. 

According to residents, the hydrant appeared in Belfairs Woods on Thursday morning, and when dog walkers asked the council why it was cloaked in a black veil they received an email stating ‘cultural reasons.’

Our news team looked into the situation further, and it has now emerged that the extinguisher is halal – it can only be used for fighting fires on premises serving halal food and produce.

After a search on the Southend Food Licensing Authority web page, a pop-up food outlet called Falafalaff is due to open for woodland visitors in September.

It will serve a variety of halal snacks to tourists attending the annual Essex County Gerbil and Guinea Pig Fair, an event that is expected to draw crowds of more than 20,000 people from across Britain.

We asked Southend Council’s Head of Jobs and Multicultural Enrichment Sam Smackt if suitable fire prevention measures were also in place for non-Halal vendors at the event.

He said: ‘Wherever possible, vendors need to ensure that they are carrying adequate fire fighting equipment.’

‘EU regulations mean that we have been forced to install halal fire tackling apparatus on this occasion, however any fire crews wishing to use it will need to trim an inch off their hoses first.’

The local authority will be keen to avoid the sorry scenes that were witnessed at the 2001 Southend Airshow when a kosher cake stall called ‘You Call These Donuts?’ burned to the ground after the owner forgot that the handheld extinguishers were coin-operated.’