When Mr Barton raised an objection, suggesting that efficiency of the constabulary may be impaired by policemen performing firefighting duties, the Mayor declared his concern nonsense, that there was everything to be gained by the proposal and that he would be supporting it. When further poignant queries were levelled by Alderman Mears, the Mayor shut down the discussion by asserting that Chief Constable Greenstreet had the full backing of the committee for whatever course he selected to take.
When Firemen Williams and Downer received their long service medals following a drill session on 21 October, no member of the Corporation, nor the Chief Constable, attended to present the awards. No special occasion was organised – Acting Chief Officer White merely handed them out after the men had made up the gear and returned to the fire station in Brunswick Street. Five weeks later Fireman John George Ingram died prematurely and unexpectedly leaving his wife and a 10-year-old son. It was not lost on his colleagues that when Fireman Whittington had died similarly unexpectedly 11-years earlier, Sapsworth had feverishly established and maintained a hugely successful public appeal for assistance for the man’s wife and children. In the case of John George Ingram nothing was done, and his wife and child were left impoverished and despairing. When the County Press published its almanac for 1912 in the 20 December edition, the line spared for the superintendent of Ryde Fire Brigade was notable for its emptiness – the Corporation feeling it not necessary to acknowledge either Robert White or Arthur Teague as its chief, and not appropriate to name Charles Greenstreet – yet. Morale among the firemen could sink no lower.
With the brigade at its lowest ebb since its formation 83 years earlier, it was ripe for political machinations to become public. At council on 13 February 1912, sixteen months since Sapsworth’s departure, it was announced that agreement had been struck to combine the constabulary and brigade and form the Island’s first (and only) Police-Fire Brigade under the command of Chief Constable Charles Greenstreet. In convincing borough ratepayers of the benefits, Alderman Randall made the audacious claim that the fire brigade element costing an average £1931 per annum for the past six years – would be reduced to just £107 14s. It would not have taken an average researcher long to identify the disingenuous factor of this claim. Final payments for the building of the Brunswick Street fire station and the purchase of the steam fire engine, all agreed by the same councillors manipulating figures for political expediency, generated a six-year total far in excess of the norm.
Randall and the committee added that despite a thorough search no suitable man had been identified, or come forward, to command the brigade. The wording released to the local press suggests almost a fault of Ryde’s populace to be unable to suffice their brigades need. Councillor Mr Purnell, one of the youngest in the chamber, attempted to joust with convention – I know more than one capable man who, owing to the interference of the Watch Committee, has been kept from applying. As if Purnell hadn’t already placed a target on his back, he displayed political suicide concurrent to personal valour by expressing – Rather than vote for such a scheme I would sooner vote for the police to be handed over to the county! Was Purnell’s suggestion merely coincidental outburst, or had he deduced or otherwise become privy to the truth behind the two-year plan - to first coerce Sapsworth’s abdication, second to reduce the firemen to objects of leaderless impotency and dilute potential insurrection by inserting policemen within their ranks, and finally dazzle ratepayers with the hint of a reduced rate.