Sister of tragic fireman backs new lottery to raise funds for service families

Ewan Williamson was killed on duty in 2009. Picture; contributed

Ewan Williamson was killed on duty in 2009. Picture; contributed

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A TRAGIC firefighter’s sister has given her backing to a new lottery set up to raise funds for the families of crews who suffer on the frontline.

Rachel Williamson welcomed the introduction of the Firefighters 100 Lottery seven years after her brave brother Ewan died while battling flames in a city pub.

He became the first firefighter to lose his life while on duty in Edinburgh as fire swept through the Balmoral Bar in Dalry Road.

The new lottery will raise funds for the families of those killed or seriously injured in the line of duty for just £1 a ticket.

Rachel said: “After my brother Ewan died while on duty, our family was torn apart by grief.

“We then had to endure years of torment and anguish as the authorities were made to face up to the training and safety issues that led up to Ewan’s death.

“If we hadn’t had legal support from the Fire Brigades Union during this dreadful time, we would have been in financial ruin.”

Ewan, 35, had been battling a blaze in the basement of the Balmoral Bar on July 12, 2009 with the rest of the crew, when the team became separated as they attempted to make their way out of the flames.

He became stuck in a toilet after making a wrong turn but his colleague thought he was right behind him. After he sent a radio message saying, “I’ll be there in a minute boss, I’m stuck, I think I’m stuck in the toilet” his colleagues desperately tried to save him, but the floor beneath them began to give way.

The careless disposal of a cigarette in an office is believed to have sparked the fire.

Ewan – who was on annual leave at the time of the incident but had offered to help out due to a staff shortage – became the first firefighter in the history of the Lothian and Borders Fire Service to die in the line of duty.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was subsequently fined £54,000 last year for health and safety breaches in connection with his death, after almost six years of legal proceedings.

As Lord Uist sentenced the Fire and Rescue Service at the Court of Session last year, he paid tribute to Mr Williamson’s “courage dedication and professionalism”.

Rachel said: “The Firefighters 100 Lottery is very much needed.

“It has been set up to help those who are forced to endure the injury or even death of a beloved son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife.

“We don’t think there could be a worthier cause, and we support it wholeheartedly.”

There are three guaranteed cash prizes awarded to players of the new lottery every week.

The first draw will take place this Saturday evening

The lottery has been launched in the run-up to the FBU’s centenary celebration marking 100 years since the union was formed in 1918. Tickets can be bought at www.firefighters100lottery.co.uk.

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk