Matt Wrack FBU general secretary said: “We note the verdict today and will continue to monitor these legal proceedings. We will have further comment to make at the conclusion of the trial.
“As a watch manager, Paul Simmons is a frontline firefighter.
“He is not and never has been a senior officer, let alone a fire chief as sometimes reported.
“The threat of prosecution has been hanging over Paul since November 2007 when four of his fellow firefighters died at Atherstone on Stour.
“Paul Simmons and his family are greatly relieved at the ‘not guilty’ verdict. There are also the families of those who died and our thoughts remain with them as they continue to deal with their tragic loss.
“Those families, the colleagues of those who died, and firefighters and officers across the UK want to get to the bottom of what happened on that night. We all need to know what happened so that lessons can be learned and we can try to ensure such tragedies are avoided in the future.
“Criminal proceedings such as these may give some answers. But no matter what happens in this case as it proceeds, some of the detail necessary to fully learn lessons and avoid future tragedies may not form part of those proceedings.
“Our concern from other firefighter deaths in recent years is that lessons are not being fully learned or addressed. And that ‘old’ lessons we learned at great cost are being forgotten.
“Four firefighters died in tragic and terrible circumstances. We have a duty to the families of those who died, their colleagues and firefighter s across the UK – who are still going into burning buildings – to learn lessons and to make our work as safe as it can be in the very hazardous and hostile environments that we work in”.
The trial continues in regards to the other two defendants.