The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is calling for meetings with the government and local authorities after a new report found that a number of firefighter fatalities could have been prevented.
The union commissioned Stirling University to draft the report, which examined the death of 14 firefighters during the last ten years. This includes fatal incidents at Bethnal Green (2), Harrow Court (2), Marlie Farm (2); Atherstone (4), Dalry Road (1), Shirley Towers (2), and Oldham Street (1).
Professor Watterson, the author of the report, concluded that ‘good practice has sometimes been ignored’ and some of these deaths ‘could and should have been prevented’. The findings included:
- calls for direct and indirect role of central and senior local government and brigade managers in firefighter fatalities to be addressed
- detailed recommendations to address structural and functional failures that threaten firefighter health and safety;
- recommends action to improve risk assessment, risk management and training
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: ‘We want this report to focus minds on what can be done to improve public safety and firefighter safety. We assess the risks and take carefully planned action to rescue people, to deal with incidents and to make communities safe. Our members have the right to demand the best possible procedures, training, equipment and resources to enable us to do our job safely, effectively and professionally. That is not too much to ask.
‘This report demonstrates a need for investment, not cuts to the fire and rescue service. Budget cuts mean reductions in training, staffing, equipment and fire stations and continued operational duties of older firefighters. This will lead inevitably to further fatalities in the future.’