Fire Service Fined Over Blaze Death

20 March 2015, 11:02 | Updated: 20 March 2015, 11:04

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has been fined £54,000 after it admitted health and safety breaches in connection with the death of a firefighter.

Ewan Williamson, who was 35, died as he fought a blaze in the basement of the former Balmoral Bar in Dalry Road, Edinburgh, on July 12 2009.

Sentence was passed on the fire service today at the High Court in Edinburgh following a hearing last month in which it admitted breaches under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Mr Williamson was working for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service - now the east division of the national service - when he died in the line of duty after becoming lost and trapped in the burning building.

He was the only firefighter in the history of the Lothian and Borders Fire Service (LBFRS) to die while tackling a blaze.

The SFRS took over from the eight regional fire services in 2013.

After passing sentence on the service today, Judge Lord Uist said: "I wish to acknowledge and record the courage, dedication and professionalism of Mr Williamson, who lost his life in tragic circumstances while serving the public in the course of his duties as a firefighter.''

In a statement afterwards the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: "Our thoughts, first and foremost, are with the family, friends and colleagues of Ewan Williamson. I appreciate it has been a very difficult time for everyone involved whilst the investigation reached its conclusion in relation to the incident which resulted in his tragic death.

" Our Firefighters are committed to providing a first class emergency fire and rescue service to the people of Scotland and working in dangerous and dynamically hazardous environments is an inherent part of their job as they deliver that commitment to serve their communities. Tragically the dangers faced by our Firefighters on that day resulted in the loss of Ewan's life, and I apologise unreservedly on behalf of the Service for any failing which contributed to Ewan's tragic loss.

"Ewan was a very popular and respected Firefighter who died a hero in the line of duty at an incident where 16 people were rescued. His professionalism and sacrifice will always be remembered.

"I will now take time to consider the judge's comments and ensure that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, through its safer firefighter programme, is addressing the issues raised throughout this investigation and that all lessons are learned to improve the safety of our Firefighters."