Fire officers' suspension criticised by Swansea councillor
FIRE chiefs have been criticised for their suspension of two officers alleged to have passed on concerns about equipment which failed during a call-out.
The suspensions follow an incident in Cellan, near Lampeter, last Wednesday evening , when Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MWWFRS) officers were sent to a house fire in a Rural Response Pump.
The RRPs were introduced by fire chiefs to provide cover in rural areas of South West Wales, but the Fire Brigades' Union issued a safety critical notice to MWWFRS earlier this year, claiming the RRPs — which were rejected by another service because of their limitations — did not have enough water in their tanks to put out even a small fire.
The Fire Brigades' Union is carrying out its own investigation into the incident, after it said initial reports suggested the pump failed, forcing officers to withdraw from the incident.
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A spokesman for MWWFRS said there was a malfunction of the appliance only after the fire was extinguished.
The suspension of officers has been strongly criticised by Clydach councillor Gordon Walker, a retired firefighter with more than 30 years' experience with the service.
He said: "FBU officials met with fire authority members, on the advice of the Welsh Assembly, the same night, and raised their concerns of this near miss.
"The following day two control operators were suspended from duty on charges of gross misconduct for allegedly disclosing confidential information.
"This is commonplace throughout the service," he added.
A spokesman for MWWFRS said: "We can confirm that two members of staff have been suspended. An investigation is ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time".
Regarding the incident in Cellan, he said: "A near miss was recorded, which is standard practice for the failure of any type of equipment or procedure. Thankfully, this is not a common occurrence and an investigation is already underway in conjunction with the Fire Brigades Union.
"The RRP was the first to arrive and crews quickly tackled the small fire which was confined to a domestic electrical appliance at the rear of the property. After the crews had extinguished the fire, there was a small malfunction with the appliance which was immediately dealt with."