Not only do we provide them with legal protection, but we also campaign with the FBU to improve their rights as workers.

While we may have a great understanding of the challenges and harrowing experiences firefighters face, few of us have never experienced it first-hand. So, we were delighted when we received an invitation from the FBU team in the South West, to come down to one of their fire and rescue services, and experience what it’s really like to fight a fire.

Lisa Gunner, one of our serious injury lawyers, gives us an insight into how our serious injury team spent the day at a fire station in Bristol.

Thompsons’ firefighters

“As part of my role in the serious injury and personal injury team at Thompsons, I was invited by the FBU to join the fire and rescue service in the South West for a taster day. 

They were keen to show my colleagues and I what being in the fire and rescue service is really like.

“On a rather rainy and windy day, six of us went along to a local fire station in Bristol and were briefed on arrival about our day ahead and I think it’s fair to say that all of us were feeling just a little nervous about the day’s activities!

“Before we could get involved in any of the activities, we had to make sure we were wearing the appropriate protective equipment. We started with the fitting of our kit, which comprised of boots (very heavy), trousers, jackets, helmets (also heavy) and gloves. Once dressed, we were then fitted with a breathing apparatus, which was even heavier.

“We were split into two groups. I was in the group which was first sent up on a turntable ladder - an amazing piece of kit used for fire and rescue that reaches 30 metres in the air and extends up and out in various directions. Although we only managed to go up 20 metres because of the wind, the views were amazing.

“We then had to get into our breathing apparatus. This kit is so heavy that leaning backwards, I was likely to overbalance with the cylinder on my back and getting up from sitting was tricky unless you had a friendly firefighter on hand to pull you up! The final piece of kit before we went into a container where a fire was lit was thermal imaging cameras. When the doors of the container were shut, and it started to fill with smoke we started first hand to experience in the dark and the heat, what it would be like to be in a situation where a fire broke out. We were given information about the fire, including how it would start and the damaging levels of smoke that were in there with us. Even with all our kit on the heat was incredibly powerful.

“Our final part of the day was with USAR (Urban Search and Rescue). We were sent on a challenge to rescue a trapped person from a confined space (and it really was a person – a firefighter played the role), and it involved us crawling through dusty, debris-filled tunnels and into confined spaces to get to them and in the end that included being lowered down through a hole in a harness. After our successful rescue we were all brought back to safety.

“We were all incredibly grateful to the FBU for the chance to experience such an amazing day. We gained great insight but it also increased our (already pretty high!) respect for our brave fire service. Thank you to the FBU for a truly memorable day and for all you do day in day out to help people in dangerous and life-threatening situations.”

Our work with unions

As trade union solicitors, we believe it is our right to protect union members and support those who give so much of their time to protecting us and our society. Thompsons Solicitors stands shoulder to shoulder with trade unions to protect and improve workers’ rights, and provide a comprehensive legal package to support union members who have been injured or experienced injustice at work.

Standing with unions

For more information on how Thompsons Solicitors is supporting trade unions, visit our Standing with Unions campaign page.