Union will work with employers to improve firefighter safety

Ewan Williamson

Ewan Williamson

The FBU has welcomed the end of an almost six year wait for justice for hero firefighter Ewan Williamson.

Ewan lost his life in the line of duty battling a fire at the Balmoral bar in Dalry Road, Edinburgh on the 12 July 2009.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue service was on Friday fined £54,000 after admitting health and safety breaches that contributed to a firefighter’s death.

Although the FBU welcomes the sentence from Judge Uist the imposition of a fine can potentially have the perverse outcome of damaging the fire and rescue service by limiting the resources available to properly train and equip firefighters to prevent such tragic accidents in future.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service eventually pleaded guilty to an amended set of charges which only focussed on some of what went wrong at the Balmoral bar fire.

That guilty conviction does not address some of the fundamental issues that arose from this incident.
The FBU has compiled a report into the incident and we have highlighted some of the failings of the then Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service which resulted in Ewan’s death.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Ewan Williamson died in the line of duty, serving his local community. It is unacceptable that this process has taken this long.

“We need much quicker systems so that the fire service can implement changes immediately to improve firefighter safety.”

Roddy Robertson, of the FBU in Scotland, said: “It is crucial for the safety of firefighters across the UK and as a legacy to Ewan that our concerns are addressed promptly.

“For six years we have been frustrated in raising any of the failings due to the criminal proceedings but we will now take the opportunity to discuss with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service meaningful and lasting ways to change the service to try and prevent such tragic events happening in the future.”

Andy Fulton, of Ewan’s old brigade of Lothian and Borders, said: “It is normal following a death at work for a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) to begin so we can learn the full lessons from this tragedy.

“Ewan was a friend to all who knew him and a brilliant firefighter and comrade. He will always be in our thoughts as we fight to improve the safety of all firefighters.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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