Firefighters pleaded for extra cover after bombing

Fire crews pushed their bosses to provide cover at Wigan fire station to reassure residents after the Manchester Arena bombing.

Thursday, 1st June 2017, 11:07 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:17 pm
A police officer on the streets the morning after the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena. Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

A whistleblower told the Wigan Post that pressure from the front line led to Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) putting a stand-by engine at the station last Thursday.

Crews based at Wigan were away in Bury on two-day training courses last week and it is now claimed that meant the station was unmanned on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This led to some criticism of GMFRS online due to crews being sent for training at the same time as the threat level was raised to critical after the appalling terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert.

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GMFRS reassured residents in a statement that the entire borough was adequately covered and an engine was provided to boost confidence.

However, this interpretation of last week’s events has now been challenged.

The whistleblower said: “Before the pumps went training on Thursday morning the crew begged and pleaded for a stand-by pump to be sent.

“They also insisted when they got to the Bury site.

“They didn’t decided to send a stand-by pump, the crews pushed for them to have it and they did.

“On Tuesday and Wednesday last week the station was completely empty.

“The crews had thought the training would be cancelled. They wanted to go into the town centre to provide visibility to reassure the community.

“Wigan’s area is massive and to leave it uncovered at any point whatsoever is a big risk. The people of Wigan deserve to have the fire cover that is required.”

Area manager Jim Hutton said: “We recently introduced new procedures to make sure we provide the best fire cover across Greater Manchester to meet our response standards, which ensures we have a minimum of two fire engines available in the borough at all times.

“We would like to reassure the local community that there is fire cover available in the area and across the borough, should it be needed, even if there is not a fire engine at Wigan Community Fire Station. The focus of GMFRS is to prevent incidents occurring.”