A total of 66 firefighters from around the country have successfully obtained compensation in a recent accident at work claim. The case related to a stomach illness that afflicted the firefighters following flood training events held between 2008 and 2012.
When somebody has been injured or afflicted with an illness in the workplace and it is down to their employer’s negligence, they are legally entitled to compensation from that employer. While firefighters are naturally exposed to greater levels of professional risk than people in most other jobs, their employer is still required to take steps to protect their health and safety and do all they reasonably can to minimise those risks. As such, if negligence on their part is the cause, fire brigades are just as liable as any other employer for injuries resulting from accidents at work.
This particular claim relates to training events held at the UK National Watersports Centre, which is located in Nottingham. Fire brigades across the UK were required to provide firefighters with Swift Water Rescue Training following a bout of extreme weather in some parts of the country, and the one of the National Watersports Centre’s fast water canoe courses was used to replicate the conditions in question.
However, the water used by the centre came from the River Trent, a known polluted source which had been found to contain harmful contaminants and bacteria. The majority of firefighters taking part in the training became ill afterwards, many for a number of days, with key symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea.
However, despite the fact that the great majority of firefighters attending training events at the centre became ill and a substantial body of evidence being presented to show that the Centre’s water was contaminated, fire brigades continued to advertise and use the venue for training events for some time. This was a clear case of negligence, which led to many more firefighters becoming avoidably sick after a number of subsequent events.
The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) pursued the compensation case against the fire brigades in question through the help of specialist accident and compensation solicitors. The brigades fought the case and denied wrongdoing, but it was found that they had failed in their duty to protect staff from avoidable risk by continuing to use a venue that presented a known hazard to health, and denying that hazard despite clear evidence. As such it was ruled that, like anybody injured through an employer’s negligence, the firefighters were entitled to the compensation they sought.