Firefighters kept away from Manchester bombing

Martin Hibbert

Martin Hibbert

Firefighters, who were trained in first-aid and tackling terror scenarios with specialist equipment, did not get permission to go to the scene until hours after the suicide bombing, despite the nearest station being half a mile away.

Speaking after Lord Bob Kerslake delivered his report, in which he said that the Fire Service was "out of the loop" as the response developed leading to a delay of two hours for fire crews to respond, Dawn Docx has apologised for the failings.

"This is a question that only the coronial inquests can decide", it added.

But the report did conclude that firefighters "would have been much better placed to support and, potentially, to accelerate the evacuation of casualties from the foyer", if they had been at the scene.

The police duty inspector in the Greater Manchester Police control room declared Operation Plato, a pre-arranged plan when it is suspected a marauding armed terrorist may be on the loose.

The official was praised for the vital "life or death" decision to override the rules by allowing medical personnel and police to continue treating the injured.

It also was "fortuitous" the North West Ambulance Service was informed 90 minutes late, the report said, otherwise it may have pulled out its paramedics, whose presence meant "lives were saved".

Armed police and twelve ambulances were on the scene within 20 minutes, but there was a shortage of stretchers to ferry the injured from the foyer to a casualty area on the concourse of Manchester Victoria Station, under the arena.

The senior fire officer on duty, a National Inter-Agency Liaison Officer, came to believe an "active shooter" scenario was still in play and stuck to rules which dictate keeping emergency responders 500 metres away from any suspected "hot" zone of danger from a potential armed terrorist.

The fire officer was also reportedly unable to reach officials, resulting in the department being "brought to the point of paralysis".

Of particular notice to the report was the fact that the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) did not manage to arrive on the scene of the attack for at least two hours, despite having an average response time of six minutes.

Instead of rushing to the scene to help, fire crews and a Special Response Team, trained to deal with terrorist incidents, rendezvoused at fire station outside the city centre.

Lord Kerslake, the panel, police, fire and other authority bosses will shortly hold a press conference about the report's findings.

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