Manchester Arena attack: fire service was 'outside of the loop' in emergency response, report reveals

A major report into the Manchester Arena terror attack states it cannot say if a two-hour delay in deploying firefighters might have saved lives. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
A major report into the Manchester Arena terror attack states it cannot say if a two-hour delay in deploying firefighters might have saved lives. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

A major report into the Manchester Arena terror attack states it cannot say if a two-hour delay in deploying firefighters might have saved lives.

A FIRE chief has made a public apology for firefighters being delayed two hours before joining in the response to the Manchester Arena terror attack.

Crews were barred from getting to the scene because of confusion with other 999 services over whether an “active shooter” was on the loose, a report into the emergency response to the attack found today.

The fire service had been left “outside of the loop” of the police and ambulance emergency response meaning that firefighters, some who heard the bomb go off, and trained in first-aid and terror scenarios with specialist equipment, did not get permission to go to the scene, despite the nearest station being half a mile away.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi left 22 people dead and hundreds injured when he detonated his device at the end of the concert by American pop star Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena.

Victims with links to Yorkshire included York couple Marcin Klis, 42, and his wife Angelika, 40; Kelly Brewster, 32, from Sheffield, Leeds Beckett University student Courtney Boyle, 19, and Wendy Fawell, a 50-year-old mother from Otley.

Dawn Docx, the interim chief fire officer of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), said she apologised unreservedly for the failures in the previous leadership of the service at the time of last May’s outrage.

“There were clearly failures in leadership and poor decisions made,” she told a press conference following the publication of the report by Lord Bob Kerslake.

“As a result firefighers themselves, desperate on the night to attend the incident, were let down by some of their senior colleagues.”

The then-chief fire officer, Peter O’Reilly, has now retired.

The 226-page report was commissioned by Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, and concluded the emergency response was “overwhelmingly positive.”

But Lord Kerslake described the failure by fire chiefs as “extraordinary” and “incredible.”

Mr Burnham said no one individual should bear all the responsibility for failures and no-one should be “scapegoated”.

And a man whose wife and two daughters were injured in the attack told The Yorkshire Post his family “couldn’t fault” the care they received from the emergency services, both at the scene and during their recovery.

Andrew Senior, of Queensbury, Bradford, rushed to Manchester on the night of the bombing, in which his wife Natalie, and daughters, Eve, then 14, and Emilia, then 11, had been injured.

Both Mrs Senior and Eve needed treatment in hospital for serious injuries, while Emilia had cuts and bruises.

The family received an early copy of Lord Kerslake’s report on Monday, ahead of its publication yesterday.

Mr Senior said: “I would say they were extremely well-organised and efficient in what they did.”

He said by the time he arrived, casualties had been categorised by the severity of their injuries and paramedics arranged a bus to take his wife and others to hospital after running short of ambulances.

He said: “For me, the only people to blame are the terrorists who helped to plan and carry out this cowardly act.”