UK

Manchester Bombing Firefighter Tells Of 'Guilt, Shame And Anger' Over Delayed Deployment

'Please forgive your firefighters who were begging to help.'

26/05/2017 12:39 BST | Updated 31/05/2017 10:17 BST

A firefighter has written a heartbreaking letter detailing how feelings of “guilt, shame and anger” will “stick with me forever” over being stopped from helping victims in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing

Firefighters are said to be livid about the decision by management who let 90 minutes pass before they let some crews attend the scene where 22 people were killed and more than 100 injured on Monday night. 

Crews at Manchester Central - less than a mile from the blast site - were alerted within minutes of the blast, but were not deployed for reasons that have not yet been made public. That decision is now subject to a review. 

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has urged people “not to jump to conclusions” over the controversy. 

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
People gather around floral tributes to the victims of the Manchester attack at St Ann's Square on Wednesday

Save UK Fire Fighters shared the letter on their Facebook page overnight which was written by an unnamed firefighter who has worked in Manchester for almost a decade. 

“The past few nights I have felt nothing but guilt, feeling ashamed and feeling let down by senior officers who didn’t have the balls to commit us,” the firefighter wrote.

“Young children were dying and we weren’t there to help.

“I did not sign up to the best job in the world to turn my back.”

The firefighter detailed how other crews, from as far away as the East Midlands, were deployed, yet Manchester firefighters simply watched on, getting updates from the news, rather than from high ranking officers. 

“What must of been at least two hours went by, two hours of not keeping still, pacing up and down the station forecourt, watching numerous paramedics from as far away as East Midlands turning up and being deployed whilst we just stood around doing nothing.

“Even a paramedic lady came to us pleading, stating she had just taken a young girl to hospital trying to save her life but sadly she was one of the tragic victims of this horrid attack.

“She was begging us, pleading with us to help, because they needed it.
”Help in getting the casualties away from danger, help with triage and help with carrying victims.”

The firefighter was experienced with fatalities on the job, but had never felt guilt “because I tried my best... not this time”.

“We were only 1/2 a mile away from helping. 1/2 a mile away from potentially saving lives and this will always stick with me forever. 

Jack Taylor via Getty Images
Soldiers have been deployed to key locations around London as fears continue about the possibility of a second terrorist attack 

“Personally I’m now feeling guilt, ashamed and angry.

“I would personally like to apologise to the people of Manchester, the victims and their families because I was part of a service that you depend on and we weren’t there when you needed us.”

The firefighter said firefighters “pleaded” with bosses to “let us go but that got declined on numerous occasions”.

“Manchester I and a number of firefighters are so so sorry we didn’t do more to help you in your hour of need,” the firefighter wrote.

“Please please forgive your firefighters who were begging to help.

“From an experienced Manchester firefighter who is ashamed of our response. Sorry.”

Save The UK Fire Service wrote under the post that the letter writer and many other firefighters should not “feel shame” as they, along with the people of Manchester, “were let down by senior fire officers”.

Commenters on the page shared the letter writer’s frustrations but also pleaded with firefighters not to feel ashamed.

Claire Parr wrote: “It really disturbs me that these fire fighters are feeling shame and guilt for having to follow senior officers commands .. do not feel shame .. do not let guilt eat at you .. you wanted to go you wanted to help and we’re raring and ready to help .. The senior officers that held you back are the ones that should be feeling shame and guilt and I hope it eats at them how you all feel .. and although I hate to say it it’s inevitable that your services will be needed in the future and I’m sure you will all be there booted and ready to help. I really feel for you all.”

The Mirror quoted on unnamed firefighter as saying it appeared bosses did not believe the arena was “safe” for them to enter.

Paramedics with the North West Ambulance Service were told this - but all volunteered to go in regardless, the newspaper’s report claimed. 

Burnham who has responsibility for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service released a statement on Thursday when firefighters’ frustrations first surfaced. 

Burnham said: “I am aware of concerns from firefighters about the speed of the response to the terror attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday night. I am taking these concerns seriously and, at the appropriate time, they will be subject to a full evaluation and briefing.

“But they have to be seen in context. Large numbers of highly-trained professionals were on site within minutes providing support to people. I could not be more proud of all of Greater Manchester’s emergency services who, over the last 48 hours, have gone to incredible lengths to carry the city through this dark time.”

Read the firefighter’s letter in full below:

I have been a firefighter for nearly ten years now in Manchester and I have never ever felt so much guilt in all my life. 

I was one of the first crews who got turned out to the tragic event in Manchester the other evening.

We stood around and were not given any updates.
We got most of the information from news updates even though we were at an rendezvous point with high ranking senior fire officers.
What must of been at least two hours went by, two hours of not keeping still, pacing up and down the station forecourt, watching numerous paramedics from as far away as East Midlands turning up and being deployed whilst we just stood around doing nothing.

Even a paramedic lady came to us pleading, stating she had just taken a young girl to hospital trying to save her life but sadly she was one of the tragic victims of this horrid attack.
She was begging us, pleading with us to help, because they needed it.
Help in getting the casualties away from danger, help with triage and help with carrying victims.
The past few nights I have felt nothing but guilt, feeling ashamed and feeling let down by senior officers who didn’t have the balls to commit us.
Young children were dying and we weren’t there to help.
I did not sign up to the best job in the world to turn my back!!!!!!
I have personally had numerous fatalities before, that being fires, rtcs, cardiac arrests etc.... But felt no guilt because I tried my best.....
Not this time.....

We were only 1/2 a mile away from helping. 1/2 a mile away from potentially saving lives and this will always stick with me forever.
Personally I’m now feeling guilt, ashamed and angry.

I would personally like to apologise to the people of Manchester, the victims and their families because I was part of a service that you depend on and we weren’t there when you needed us....

We pleaded with our high ranking officers to let us go but that got declined on numerous occasions.

Manchester I and a number of firefighters are so so sorry we didn’t do more to help you in your hour of need.

Please please forgive your firefighters who were begging to help.....

From an experienced Manchester firefighter who is ashamed of our response. Sorry xx

STUKFS The truth is out there.

This firefighter and the many others in Manchester should not feel shame, they and the people of Manchester were let down by senior Fire Officers.