Firefighters reveal shame at how long it took them to be able to respond to Manchester attack

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

Firefighters have spoken of their shame at how long it took them to be able to respond to the Manchester terror attack.

They claim they were held back by bosses from helping victims at the Manchester Arena after terrorist Salman Abedi set off a nail bomb.

It wasn’t until 90 minutes after the attack took place that crews arrived at the scene, when most of the injured and dying had already been removed.

In an email sent to County Fire Officer Peter O’Reilly, firefighters expressed their anger at watching events unfold on screen.

Firefighters rages at bosses who would not let them rush to the scene of the Manchester terror attack (Rex)

One wrote: “The more I see of the news the angrier I’m getting! What are we employed for if not to help people?

“I always classed us as the best emergency service, the people who would put ourselves at risk before any other service. I feel ashamed today.”

The firefighter went on: “Yes, it’s terrifying for us as much as the next person but that’s what we’re employed for, to take the risk that others can’t or won’t.

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“We have the training and resources to respond correctly and that’s exactly what we should have done.”

Crews based at Manchester Central were said to be prepared to rush to the scene just after the bomb went off but were forced to wait an hour at nearby Philips Park station while ‘specialists’ with bulletproof overalls turned up.

When asked for comment from the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, they responded with a statement from Mayor Andy Burhnam which said: “I am aware of concerns from firefighters about the speed of the response to the terror attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday night.

Most of the injured and dying had been removed from the scene by the time fire crews turned up (Rex)

“I am taking these concerns seriously and, at the appropriate time, they will be subject to a full evaluation and briefing.

“But they have to be seen in context. Large numbers of highly-trained professionals were on site within minutes providing support to people.

“I could not be more proud of all of Greater Manchester’s emergency services who, over the last 48 hours, have gone to incredible lengths to carry the city through this dark time.”

Mr Burnham added: “My first concern will always be for the families affected and I would ask everybody not to jump to conclusions in this moment when we’re still coming to terms with what has happened.

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has been urged to investigate (Rex)

“What we can say is that this was an extremely serious, fast moving situation and the full nature of it did not become clear for a number of hours.

“In coming weeks we will have to understand what decisions where made and why.”

Firefighters on the internal brigade website, Save The UK Fire Service, have now called on the mayor to launch an investigation into the delay.

One firefighter directed his anger at bosses, fuming: “Their lack of leadership was reflected in the desperate pleas of North West Ambulance Service staff shouting that firefighters were needed at the scene.

“They were sat at Manchester Central fire station watching the incident unfold on TV. The station is half a mile from the incident.”

Gary Keary, Fire Brigades Union, Brigade Secretary, said they have raised the concerns with the County Fire Officer.

How you can help the victims of the Manchester terror attack

People up and down the country have been trying to find ways to help people affected by the Manchester terror attack.

Manchester City Council has partnered with the British Red Cross to launch an appeal for victims and their families.

The British Red Cross have already donated £50,000 to the fund, which will make payments to families facing funeral costs and individuals who have suffered life-changing injuries, ensuring that no one affected by the tragic events face short-term financial difficulties.

Donating couldn’t be simpler – so if you want to help, here is the info you need:


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