Compensation secured for 66 firefighters who were sick after flood training
Fire Brigade Union (FBU) members from across the UK have secured compensation after several flood rescue training sessions that took place between 2008 and 2012 at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham left them with stomach sickness.
Following widespread floods, the UK government required all fire brigades to undergo ‘Swift Water Rescue Training’ in fast-flowing water which replicated flood conditions.
Some Fire Brigades sent firefighters to train at the UK National Watersports Centre in Nottingham, a slalom course designed for use by Olympic canoeists.
The water at the Centre flowed from the River Trent, a polluted source which had been found to contain harmful pathogens and bacteria. The physically demanding training resulted in the firefighters ingesting the infected water, which later led to diarrhoea and sickness.
Almost all of the firefighters fell ill after the training course, and the FBU instructed accident at work specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, to investigate the claims on behalf of some of their South West based members. Thompsons’ investigation found that the water at the Centre posed a public health risk and went on to secure compensation for the firefighters who had become ill.
However, despite this investigation and evidence showing their illnesses had been caused by the dirty water at the National Watersports Centre, the venue was still advertised to other Brigades as a training location.
Between 2009 and 2012, more firefighters from across the UK attended the site and suffered the same physical symptoms.
One of the firefighters, Jason Sherwin, from Sheffield, said: “I was very sick for four days, and some of my colleagues were ill for much longer. It’s disgraceful that they let us all suffer like that, knowing that it was the training centre water causing it.”
Tam McFarlane, executive council member of the South West FBU said: “Despite the overwhelming numbers of attendees becoming sick, and the expert evidence obtained by Thompsons Solicitors in the original case, Brigades continued to put my colleagues at risk of illness.
“Rather than accepting their mistakes, bosses have fought every claim in full, wasting vast sums of taxpayer’s money on legal defence fees that should be spent protecting the public. We’re very grateful to Thompsons for securing compensation for every member affected.”
Kevin Digby of Thompsons Solicitors said: ““The Brigades were adamant that the training was safe despite expert evidence in numerous cases to the contrary. Their suggestion that those attending the training course could or should have taken more care not to swallow the water during the sessions when it was a training session would be laughable were it not for the impact on the firefighters health.
“The Brigades are meant as employers to guard FBU members from foreseeable risk, not arrogantly ignore facts staring them in the face. 66 FBU members have been laid low by this failure and there are many others who have been affected. Listening to your staff, listening to experts and basic health and safety isn't rocket science.”
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