Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Ewan Williamson death: Fire service to make 'critical' changes over death

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

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has identified "critical" changes that need to be made following the death of an Edinburgh firefighter.

Ewan Williamson died in July 2009 after becoming trapped while tackling a blaze at the Balmoral Bar on Dalry Road.

Last year the service was fined £54,000 after admitting health and safety breaches that contributed to his death.

The SFRS has published a report into the incident containing a series of lessons and recommendations.

They include the urgent need for a policy on the use of breathing apparatus, tactical ventilation of buildings and improved communication.

The report also identified a need for risk management training and support for firefighters in stressful situations.

Mr Williamson, 35, was the first firefighter in the history of the Lothian and Borders Fire Service to die tackling a blaze.

He became trapped in conditions of zero visibility and extreme heat as he was deployed at the incident on 12 July 2009.

'Our commitment'

Alasdair Hay, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service chief officer, said there was a commitment to implementing all the recommendations.

He said: "Moving to a single service gave us the unique opportunity to introduce the pan-Scotland programme in 2014 and since then we have been proactively learning from the past to improve firefighter safety in the future. We are making progress."

He added: "The role of a firefighter will always be inherently dangerous but this report will help us reduce potential risk through more effective procedures and a culture of continuous improvement."

Chris McGlone, Fire Brigades Union executive council member, welcomed the report.

He said: "We are confident that, when fully implemented, the Safer Firefighter Programme will promote lasting improvements to the safety of firefighters not only in Scotland but across the UK.

"We believe that this report can be the start of that journey and will help us to achieve our shared aim that no firefighter should lose their life protecting our communities."

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