Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Ewan Williamson death: Fire service faces three charges

Ewan Williamson
Image caption Ewan Williamson died while tackling a blaze at a bar in Edinburgh

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is accused of a number of health and safety breaches following the death of a firefighter more than four years ago.

Prosecutors brought charges after Ewan Williamson died while tackling a basement blaze at the Balmoral Bar in Dalry Road, Edinburgh in July 2009.

About 20 people were rescued from the burning building, but the 35-year-old lost his life after he became trapped.

The service faces three charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The case was called at the High Court in Glasgow.

It includes a claim that there was a failure to prioritise Mr Williamson's rescue.

He worked for the former Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service before the new service was formed in April this year.

The first allegation claims the necessary "instruction and supervision" was not provided to employees.

This includes an accusation that there was a lack of appropriate training for firefighters in relation to tackling basement fires.

Trapped in toilet

The second charge states the fire service failed to provide "a system of work" that was safe and without risks.

Prosecutors allege there was not an adequate response to Mr Williamson becoming trapped in a toilet on the ground floor at the Balmoral Bar.

The indictment goes on to detail there was a failure to appropriately "prioritise his rescue" and utilise the relevant equipment to save him.

It is further claimed there was not a proper response to a breathing apparatus emergency situation.

The charge also alleges there was a failure to have in place an effective communication system between firefighters.

The final and third accusation claims there was not a "suitable and sufficient risk assessment".

It includes an allegation of not identifying adequate control measures in conditions of "restricted visibility and extreme heat".

Peter Gray QC, representing the fire service, said there would be a challenge to the "competency and relevancy" of the charges.

Judge Lord Turnbull set a debate on this issue due to take place at the High Court in Edinburgh on 6 December.

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