Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Face 3-Month Trial


    The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service face a 3-month trial under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after a fire-fighter died on duty in Edinburgh 5 years ago.

    Ewan Williamson, aged 35, died after becoming trapped in a toilet on the ground floor while tackling a basement blaze at the Balmoral Bar in July 2009, during which 20 people were rescued from upstairs flats.

    Charges include:

  • Failure to provide necessary instruction and supervision, including appropriate training for firefighters in tackling basement fires
  • Failure to provide a safe system of work and to respond adequately to Mr Williamson becoming trapped
  • Lack of proper response to a breathing apparatus emergency situation
  • Failure to prioritise Mr Williamson’s rescue and use appropriate equipment
  • Lack of an effective communication system between firefighters
  • No suitable and sufficient risk assessment
  • Lack of adequate control measures in conditions of restricted visibility and extreme heat.

    Mr Williamson’s family claimed that the watch commander did not recognise a warning of a potentially very dangerous backdraught fire.

    The family has also previously said Mr Williamson did not have sufficient recovery time before he re-entered the burning pub.

    They also maintain that ventilating the fire by smashing windows in order to clear smoke from the bar made the task of fighting the fire in the pub basement more dangerous.

    The Fire Brigades Union welcomed the decision by Scotland’s Crown Office to proceed with criminal hearings against the Scottish FRS into Mr Williamson’s death, but bemoaned the length of time it has taken for the trial to take place.

    “Until this trial is complete, and lessons are learned, other firefighters will be at risk of a similar incident,” John Duffy, regional secretary of the FBU in Scotland, said.

    No date has yet been set for the start of trial, but the case will call again at Glasgow High Court on 9 September.


Collated by Philip Turnbull






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