COMMENT: Changes must happen without delay

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ALMOST seven years on from the tragic fire at the Balmoral Bar which claimed the life of firefighter Ewan Williamson and we finally have the official report into the lessons which can be learned.

There are 19 recommendations in all with Ewan’s death described as “tragic, avoidable and unacceptable”.

And while elements of the report are highly technical, the conclusions are impossible to miss.

It found firefighters were given “limited or incomplete briefings” about breathing apparatus, with crews “committed into a high risk environment, ill-equipped and without full appreciation of the hazards they were facing”.

Other issues were identified with communication and command during major incidents.

Some of the recommendations have already been complied with in the wake of the tragedy as you would expect.

Other “critical” changes are yet to be carried out.

This must now happen without further delay.

Ewan’s death was a tragedy which shook Edinburgh and the wider firefighting community, not just in the UK.

Such a loss in these circumstances is also, thankfully, very rare.

We know firefighting is by its very nature a high-risk job which involves often split-second decisions and calculated risks.

The men and women of the fire service put their lives on the line every day for us and that will not change.

So we owe it to them and to the memory of Ewan to ensure that their highly dangerous job is as safe as possible.

Ewan Williamson was a hero who, like his colleagues, risked his life to rescue others that night in July, 2009.

His sacrifice will never be forgotten in the Capital.

His legacy will be ensuring such a tragedy can never happen again.