Mayor: Fire­fight­ers share no blame over de­layed re­sponse to sui­cide bomb­ing

The Herald - - NEWS - KIM PILLING

FIRE­FIGHT­ERS have noth­ing to apol­o­gise for over the de­layed re­sponse to the Arena ter­ror at­tack, says the Mayor of Greater Manch­ester.

In an open let­ter to the county’s fire­fight­ers, Andy Burn­ham ac­knowl­edged those on the front line on the night of May 22 were “des­per­ate to help but were pre­vented from do­ing so by de­ci­sions taken above you”.

Mr Burn­ham told them it was fail­ure of “process, lead­er­ship and cul­ture”.

A re­port by Lord Bob Ker­slake, com­mis­sioned by the mayor, found poor com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween po­lice and fire ser­vice meant the “valu­able” as­sis­tance of fire crews was de­layed by 122 min­utes af­ter the bomb­ing, which left 22 dead, in­clud­ing 14 year-old Eilidh Ma­cleod, from Barra, and scores in­jured.

Dawn Docx, the in­terim chief fire of­fi­cer of Greater Manch­ester Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice (GMFRS), made a pub­lic apol­ogy while Mark Rowe, the north west sec­re­tary of the Fire Bri­gades Union, said mem­bers felt “ashamed” they could not help ca­su­al­ties more quickly.

Yes­ter­day, Mr Burn­ham wrote: “Over the past few days it has been hard to read com­ments from fire­fight­ers on duty on the night of the Manch­ester Arena at­tack.

“Some have spo­ken of their shame and even asked for for­give­ness from the peo­ple of Greater Manch­ester.

“While I un­der­stand why peo­ple feel like this, it is im­por­tant for me to say that I think that they are wrong. No front­line fire­fighter in Greater Manch­ester has to apol­o­gise for any­thing. You and col­leagues did noth­ing wrong on that night.

“In fact, I know that you were des­per­ate to help but were pre­vented from do­ing so by de­ci­sions taken above you. The fail­ure is not yours but one of process, lead­er­ship and cul­ture.

“I know this be­cause you told me of your con­cerns in the days af­ter the at­tack. This prompted me to com­mit to an in­de­pen­dent re­port into what hap­pened.”

He added: “Dif­fi­cult as this week has been, I think we will look back on it as a turn­ing point in our fire ser­vice’s proud his­tory when we re­solved to­gether to make it a ser­vice where the ex­cel­lence of the front line is matched by ev­ery­thing above it.”

The then £155,000-ayear GMFRS chief fire of­fi­cer, Pe­ter O’reilly, has now re­tired, keep­ing his pen­sion with no ac­tion taken.

„ Eilidh Ma­cleod, from Barra, was among vic­tims.

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