The Fire Brigades Union welcomed the coroner’s report with its clear recommendations and findings and dealing with some of the myths about safety procedures which arose in media reports during the inquest. It welcomed the praise for individual members of the public and fire crews and other emergency services.
The union challenged the Government to explain how emergency services across the UK could respond better in future to labour intensive incidents with far fewer personnel and resources
It welcomed the Coroner’s views there should be no criticism of employees adhering to safety policies and protocols and highlighting the invaluable role of Health and Safety legislation. The Coroner cleared up the confusion over firefighters not going into tunnels with live rails.
The Coroner pointed out it was the fire crews – based on their training and experience – who new the electric rail could revert to ‘live’ without warning. This could have caused further death or injury which is why some waited for clear confirmation the rail was no longer live with the Coroner making clear there was “no margin of error”.
But the union said It was inexplicable why key recommendations regarding inter -emergency service working and radios which worked underground had not been implemented following the King’s Cross fire in 1987.
The union backed calls for better training and better inter-agency training.
Matt Wrack, FBU General secretary said: “We agree with the Coroner’s conclusion about the contribution of firefighters and other emergency service workers. We are justifiably proud of the role firefighters played on that terrible day.
In the immediate aftermath it took some time to establish these were co-ordinated bombings with the possibility of more primary attacks and secondary devices. Terrorist attacks don’t come with a note explaining what they have done, what they have exploded or what is going to happen next.
“The risk to fire crews in the aftermath of co-ordinated terror attacks is not some theoretical risk. Over 340 US firefighters died in 9/11 – one in ten of all the deaths that day.
“The criticism of individual fire crews from some quarters and as reported in the media was very unfair. Rescuers can’t rescue if they are themselves dead or injured, it adds to the problem and makes things worse.
“There job is to carry out rescues as safely as possible in inherently dangerous situations so they can keep operational. Dead or injured fire crews can’t help anyone.
“The fire service is big enough to know it must learn lessons from this tragedy. The Government must explain how emergency services across the UK will deal with very labour intensive incidents in future with fewer people and far less resources.
“While on this occasion delays may not have altered the tragic outcome we need to ensure the fire service plans adequately for a rapid and full response to all emergencies. Firefighters have been highlighting the danger of slower emergency responses for the past four years.”