Risks to firefighters make compensation claims "inevitable", say fire chiefs


A fire service has reached settlements worth £150,000 for compensation claims by its workers within 3 months.

Risk Accident and Work

Greater Manchester Fire Service (GMFS) agreed to pay £5,000 to a crew member who injured his hand putting on a defective glove at work. Managers acknowledged the glove was broken after a loose fibre cut a tendon in the fireman's finger.

The GMFS insisted that injuries to its employees have nearly halved in 6 years.

"There has been a 45% reduction in the number of firefighter injuries since 2006," said Assistant Chief Fire Officer Peter O’Reilly. "However, we are an emergency service and our crews will take highly-calculated risks to save lives and property."

Noting that improvements in equipment and training had contributed to the decrease in compensation claims, the GMFS said the occupational risks to which firefighters were exposed meant payouts for injuries were inevitable.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) observed that compensation was "a vital safety net" for firefighters hurt at work and called on the service to continue its improvements.

"We have worked as a union with the employers to reduce these cases," said the FBU's Kevin Brown. "We’d much rather our members didn't have to receive any compensation at all."

18 firefighters won compensation claims against GMFS between April and June 2012, with some injuries dating back to 2007. The biggest award, for £25,005, was paid to a firefighter whose neck and shoulder were damaged by sheet metal.

In other cases, a crew member whose knee was damaged when he was felled by water from a burst fire hose was awarded £20,000; and £15,000 was awarded a worker who fell into an inspection pit due to an unsafe makeshift bridge above it.

GMFS is currently attending to 18 more workers' compensation claims.

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