Death by Memo
A WOMAN lay injured at the bottom of a mineshaft for six hours because health and safety rules banned firefighters from rescuing her...a memo from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue chiefs four months earlier had banned the use of rope equipment for lifting members of the public to safety, the inquiry was told.
Christopher Rooney, the first senior fire officer at the scene, admitted it would have been possible for his crew to have rescued Mrs Hume from the shaft, had it not been for the memo.
During the hearing, solicitor Gregor Forbes asked Mr Rooney: "On the basis of the manpower and equipment that you had available, is it your view it would it would have been possible for the firefighters to have brought the person to the surface before the mountain rescue team?"
He replied: "Yes, I believe so."
The now-retired fire officer said the memo had been circulated around Strathclyde Fire and Rescue stations in March 2008.
Mr Forbes said: "Your position is that, while you were supplied with safe working-at-height equipment, while this could be used to bring up firefighters, it could not be used to bring up a member of the public."
Mr Rooney, 51, told the inquiry at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court: "Yes, that's correct."
All 18 firefighters at the scene were trained and capable of using the equipment, he added.
Of the memo four months before the incident, he was then asked: "If Mrs Hume had fallen down the shaft on 13 March, instead of 26 July, you could have used a lowering line?"
Mr Rooney replied: "We could have."