Friday, 30 March 2012

Family of dead Firefighter to sue L & B F & RS

From STV News.

Family of firefighter who died during blaze to sue service

Ewan Williamson: The 35-year-old died during a fire at the Balmoral Bar in Edinburgh.

The family of Ewan Williamson say they have 'no choice' but to sue Lothian Fire and Rescue Service.

The family of a firefighter who died tackling a blaze three years ago are suing his employers for damages.
Ewan Williamson died as he helped colleagues battle the flames at the Balmoral Bar in Edinburgh in the early hours of July 12, 2009.
The 35-year-old was the first firefighter from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service to die while fighting a blaze.
On Tuesday, his family’s solicitors said they were raising an action at the Court of Session against the fire service.

His mother Linda and sisters Rachael and Rebecca believe mistakes were made which led to Mr Williamson’s death.
In a statement released through Thompsons Solicitors, they said: "With this action we hope to get answers and justice.
"Almost three years have passed since Ewan lost his life and we have waited patiently for the authorities to investigate what happened and either prosecute those they hold responsible or hold a Fatal Accident Inquiry into Ewan's death. Despite the passage of time, we still do not know all the facts or why Ewan died.

"We believe something went wrong that night and we want to know why.
"We had hoped and expected that after all this time and all the investigations carried out by the Health & Safety Executive, the police and an external Fire Brigade, that the Crown Office would have been able to take a decision on how to proceed. As matters presently stand, however, we do not know if a decision has even been taken to prosecute anyone for Ewan's death or if a Fatal Accident Inquiry is to be held.

"The night we lost Ewan turned our lives upside down. Nothing can ever replace him but we feel that we cannot move on until we know what happened to Ewan and any lessons which should be learned and applied from that night are put into practice.
"The justice system is taking far too long and we simply cannot wait any longer. Enough is enough."
Syd Smith is representing the family, he said they have been left with no choice but to launch legal action.
He said: "The Williamson family have waited long enough for action and answers regarding Ewan's tragic death. That is why we are having to launch a legal action for damages. The length of time it is taking the Crown Office to make a decision on how to proceed is frankly unacceptable."
The action is backed by Roddy Robertson, the Fire Brigade Union’s executive council member for Scotland.

He said: "The Fire Brigades Union have supported the Williamson family throughout their ordeal. We share their interest in what happened that night and why Ewan died.
"Our members have a professional job to do and it can sometimes be dangerous. If there are lessons to be learned from Ewan's death then there should not be delays of the sort we have seen here in learning them. The Crown Office now needs to reach an early decision on what they are going to do with Ewan's case and we are pressing for that to happen.

"In the absence of any Fatal Accident Inquiry or prosecution after this length of time it is necessary for both the Williamson family and the future safety of Firefighters that this action is taken."
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said they had worked with the police during their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Williamson’s death.
A spokeswoman for the service said: "We note the decision of the Williamson family to raise an action for damages in the Court of Session in relation to the death of Ewan Williamson.
"Ewan’s death was a tragic event in the history of Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service. It affected everyone working within the organisation. We also witnessed firsthand the pain of Ewan’s family and his partner and did all that we could to support them through that exceptionally dark period in their lives.

"We understand that without answers to what happened on that fateful night their pain and anxiety continue. This is something that personnel from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, particularly those who responded to the fire at the Balmoral Bar on the 12 July 2009, live with too, on a daily basis.
"Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service has cooperated fully with the police investigation into Ewan’s death. It is of paramount importance to us that we understand the full circumstances of what happened the night that Ewan died.
"Our personnel have taken part in thousands of hours’ worth of interviews, with police, the Health and Safety Executive and to assist with our organisation’s own investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

"We remain committed to continuing to serve the communities of Lothian and Borders, responding on a daily basis to incidents that put us in danger. We must await the outcome of the legal process to determine what lessons can to be learned from Ewan's death. Those lessons will be used to shape how we respond to the continuing challenges of a very difficult job where the balance between protecting others and our own is always at the forefront of our minds."
It is understood the police report into the fire and the circumstances surrounding it has not been released.

Mr Williamson, who joined the service in 2002, was laid to rest on July 22 with a memorial service held at St Giles’ Cathedral in the capital. Hundreds of people lined the streets of the city to pay their respects.

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