seven years of heartache

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July 2009: Ewan Williamson dies after becoming trapped in a toilet while tackling a basement fire at the Balmoral Bar in Dalry Road. Around 20 people were rescued as firefighters fought to extinguish the flames. Mr Williamson had joined the service in 2003 and is the only firefighter in the history of the Lothian and Borders Fire Service to die tackling a blaze.

July 2009: Mr Williamson’s funeral is held in Edinburgh, with a fire engine led by area manager John Dickie carrying his coffin the short distance from Tollcross fire station along past the fire brigade HQ at Lauriston Place. An official investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death is under way.

March 2012: The family of Mr Williamson announces it is to raise an action for damages in the Court of Session against the firefighter’s former employers, Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service board. The family claims fatal mistakes were made on the night and questions raised regarding what went wrong remain unanswered. The official investigation into what happened is yet to be made public.

April 2013: Criminal proceedings are launched against the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in connection with Mr Williamson’s death.

November 2013: Prosecutors bring charges at the High Court in Glasgow. The service faces three charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act, including a claim that there was a failure to prioritise Mr Williamson’s rescue.

February 2015: The 
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service admits health and safety breaches in connection with Mr Williamson’s death.

March 2016: The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Fire Brigades Union publish their report detailing lessons and recommendations.