Firefighters' dispute could ‘cost lives’ in Greater Manchester

27 June 2019

Concerns have been raised by government inspectors about Greater Manchester fire service’s ability to respond to terrorist attacks, as it no longer has a specialist unit.

According to BBC News, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said that that specially trained firefighters in the unit would previously have been able to enter an area where an attacker had been which was in a police cordon, and that employers and the government were to blame for a dispute that sparked the closure of the unit.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services said Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) had not had the capability to respond to some terror related incidents since before Christmas because of the dispute. In an event of this kind it would rely on fire crews from neighbouring Merseyside to attend the incident.

Inspector of fire and rescue Zoe Billingham, commented that it could take up to an hour for firefighters coming from Merseyside to be mobilised and provide specialist support in Greater Manchester and that ‘the delay in any emergency service responding to a terror attack could very well cost lives’.

Chief fire officer Jim Wallace said crews in Greater Manchester could respond to all other forms of terror attack: ‘It is important to stress that this applies to a very specific type of terrorist incident which is thankfully extremely rare. But if it happens in Greater Manchester, we have a contingency in place where we can call on the support of colleagues on Merseyside in addition to our usual operational response.’

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