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Scottish Fire Service In Fatal Safety Failing

Posted in: Workplace Injuries Wrongful & Accidental Death 

The Scottish Fire and Rescue (SFRS) service has been fined £54,000 for failing to ensure proper health and safety procedures were in place, resulting in the death of a firefighter.

The SFRS admitted to breaches in their health and safety procedure which resulted in the workplace death of Ewan Williamson in 2009. He is the only firefighter to die fighting a fire in the history of Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade. 

“Co-operation of the Highest Degree.” 

The SFRS had pled guilty to a charge that was brought forward from the incident, however when imposing the fine the judge stated that he took into account that he was dealing with an organisation designed to prevent injury and death and preserve property. He also stated that the SFRS had a remarkably high health and safety record in general and that the case regarding the Edinburgh firefighter was an isolated incident. 

He said there had been “co-operation of the highest degree”  from an employer with good health and safety record

Lord Uist said: “Their safety record in the execution of what is inevitably dangerous work was described by their counsel as commendable and excellent.” 

Serious Failings

Despite the ruling and the fine issued by the judge, a statement from the family of Mr Williamson stated that there had been a serious failing from the SFRS, and that had procedure and safety protocol been followed. A statement from the family said:

“There were serious failures in the fire service’s incident command and control and firefighting procedures which have not been fully explored yet.

“We had hoped and expected that these failures would be brought to light in the course of the criminal prosecution but now that the Fire and Rescue Service have pleaded guilty to a reduced set of charges that is not going to happen as part of the criminal process.”

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