A former Welsh firefighter has spoken of the “damaging impact” on his life after suffering career-ending back injuries in an incident while attending a mountain fire in North Wales.

Peter Roberts, 60, from Conwy, North Wales, has secured £180,000 in compensation after turning to his union, the FBU, and the national law firm Thompsons Solicitors to make a legal claim.

The incident occurred in August 2018 while Mr Roberts attended a fire on Llantysilio Mountain. As part of his daily duties, he was tasked with driving a fire vehicle up and down a track, taking water up to help control the fire. While backing down a slope, his vehicle rolled over and down the mountain.

As a result of the incident, Mr Roberts suffered lumbar and cervical spinal injuries. The extent of the injuries has forced him into early retirement.

It wasn’t just the trauma of the incident that Mr Roberts has had to contend with. He’s also had to endure the stress and strain of facing disciplinary action over the incident from his employer, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

The employer initially contested responsibility for the incident, but ultimately conceded liability after arguments from Thompsons on behalf of Mr Roberts that North Wales Fire and Rescue Service was aware of the dangers posed by vehicles being driven on the mountain, as two similar incidents involving vehicle rollovers had occurred in prior operations while combating the mountain fires in the same region.

The social justice law firm secured a substantial settlement, including a significant loss of earnings and pension claims, after consulting orthopaedic healthcare professionals and evidence from a pension loss expert.

The traumatic experience has left Mr Roberts with both physical and psychological injuries. He said: “The incident has robbed me of much of life’s great pleasures outside of work. I used to love doing DIY work around my house. I pretty much built the house I live in, but I can no longer do any major jobs around my home.

“I can no longer do heavy lifting work without experiencing neck and lower back pain. I also used to drive long distances to do salmon and cod fishing, but the injuries have prevented me from doing that.

“It’s frustrating to know this was preventable. Before my vehicle rolled over, two fire engines had also turned over during previous operations to fight the fires, which lasted weeks.

“Being subject to disciplinary action over an incident that was not my fault only added insult to injury.

“My employer should have actioned an urgent safety notice, but it didn’t. The failure of the fire brigade’s leadership to communicate effectively with its staff I believe has damaged my life.”

Thompsons’ Matthew Corby, who represented Mr Roberts, said: “Although we are pleased to have secured such a substantial settlement for Peter, you cannot put a price on your health and wellbeing.”

“We are pleased to have redressed the balance for him following the disciplinary action he faced.”

“Cases like this show the value of the FBU’s legal service. It also shows that the FBU is prepared to take cases that claim companies and no win, no fee solicitors will not.”

Mark Rowe, FBU national officer, added: “Fire service employers must do everything in their power to keep firefighters safe from harm.

“Peter Roberts has fought appalling injustice with resilience and determination, and with the weight of the union behind him.

“His win is a win for every firefighter - all workers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. FBU members will always stand together to defend our rights and lives at work."