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HSE responds to Daily Mail article on firefighter safety

Dear Sir,

The job of the Fire and Rescue Service is unique (We're held back by health and safety, says fire chief, p20, 2 March). By the very nature of their work, firefighters are sent into hazardous situations in order to save lives when anyone else would be seeking to get away from the danger.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) trains its inspectors to understand this fundamental point. We appreciate that incident commanders have to make decisions in what are sometimes extremely dangerous, emotionally charged and fast-moving situations.

HSE set out its policy last year, and it was fully endorsed by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), and the Government's senior fire and rescue advisers. It sought to clarify the need to protect fire-fighters while ensuring they can respond effectively to emergencies. The statement makes clear that proper health and safety does not prevent firefighters from doing their job - nor deny them the protection which is reasonable given their unique role.

Over the past few years there have been a number of major injuries to firefighters during operational incidents, some of which have resulted in multiple fatalities. It is only proper that lessons should be leant from such incidents to reduce the likelihood of recurrence.

Yours sincerely

Paul Stollard
Scotland Director
Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2012-01-13