Manchester firefighters 'did nothing wrong on night of Arena terror attack’

Emergency services at the scene following the Manchester Arena terror attack. Credit: PA

Firefighters have nothing to apologise for over the delayed response to the Manchester Arena terror attack, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has said.

In an open letter to the county's firefighters, Andy Burnham acknowledged those on the front line on the night of May 22 were "desperate to help but were prevented from doing so by decisions taken above you".

Mr Burnham told them it was failure of "process, leadership and culture".

Mr Burnham published his open letter three days after a major review into the attack criticised the fire service for their slow response to the suicide bombing, which saw them arrive at the scene more than two hours after the bomb had been detonated.

Andy Burnham said the failures were due 'process, leadership and culture'. Credit: PA

However, the Kerslake Report states that it cannot conclude if the delay in deploying firefighters to the scene could have saved lives or not.

The report, commissioned to assess the preparedness and emergency response to the attack found that the fire service was effectively "outside of the loop" of police and ambulance emergency responders.

In the wake of the 226-page report, Dawn Docx, the interim chief fire officer of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), made a public apology while Mark Rowe, the north west secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said members felt "ashamed" they could not help casualties more quickly.

The terror attack killed 22 people. Credit: ITV News

On Friday, Mr Burnham wrote: "Over the past few days it has been hard to read comments from firefighters on duty on the night of the Manchester Arena attack.

"Some have spoken of their shame and even asked for forgiveness from the people of Greater Manchester.

"While I understand why people feel like this, it is important for me to say that I think that they are wrong. No frontline firefighter in Greater Manchester has to apologise for anything. You and colleagues did nothing wrong on that night.

"In fact, I know that you were desperate to help but were prevented from doing so by decisions taken above you. The failure is not yours but one of process, leadership and culture.

"I know this because you told me of your concerns in the days after the attack. This prompted me to commit to an independent report into what happened and that has been published this week."

He added: "Difficult as this week has been, I think we will look back on it as a turning point in our fire service's proud history when we resolved together to make it a service where the excellence of the front line is matched by everything above it."

Front line firefighters have nothing to apologise for, Andy Burnham said. Credit: Twitter/Andy Burnham
Front line firefighters 'did nothing wrong on the night', Andy Burnham said. Credit: Twitter/Andy Burnham

The chief fire officer at the time of the attack, Peter O'Reilly, has now retired from his £155,000-a-year role and will keep his pension with no action taken against him.

Salman Abedi killed 22 people and injured more than 100 when he detonated a shrapnel-laden bomb following an Ariana Grande concert at the arena on May 22, 2017.