An FBU member who needed surgery after a 120kg ladder fell on him while he was fighting a blaze has received compensation after help from his trade union.

The 39-year-old, from Honiton was one of a team of 35 fire fighters called to a fire at a thatched house in Bickleigh, near Exeter in April 2011 when the accident happened.

The full time fire fighter at Danes Castle Fire Station was standing on a banking pulling off pieces of thatched roofing when he was struck on his right side and arm by the huge heavy ladder.

Before the ladder fell he had warned the more senior colleague who was putting it in place that it needed to be secured with a rope as per Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service’s safety manual. His warning was ignored and although he managed to get almost out of the way the falling ladder struck his right side and arm.

He suffered a shoulder injury and despite seven weeks of acupuncture and physiotherapy his shoulder continued to cause him problems and he ended up needing an operation.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

After the accident he contacted his trade union, the FBU for advice. The FBU instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

The fire fighter said: “At a fire it’s important that everyone gets on with the job they have been asked to do and in a safe manner. I could see that the ladder was being put in place without the correct safety precautions but my concerns were ignored.

“I had a task and had to continue with it but I was in direct danger when the ladder did fall. Fortunately I wasn’t hit square on but I still ended up taking a heavy blow and had months off work as a result.

”My accident highlights that health and safety rules are there for a reason and they need to be followed during an emergency situation. If my case stops anyone else being injured like me something good will have come out of my pain.”

Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary added: “This accident happened during an active emergency scenario where split second decisions need to be made. Those decisions should take into account the safety of the fire fighters involved as well as the public. Sometimes one extra step can save lives, here it could have saved a fire fighter being off work for months.”

Kevin Digby from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Health and safety manuals are not pieces of paper which should be shoved in a drawer and ignored. These important protocols are there to be followed both in training and in live situations. Slip ups in standards result in injuries.”