UNION bosses have spoken out after one of three fire service managers on trial for manslaughter was acquitted.
The case against Paul Simmons of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service over the deaths of four firefighters was thrown out yesterday at Stafford Crown Court.
The trial continues however for Adrian Ashley from Nuneaton and his colleague Timothy Woodward following a massive blaze in November 2007.
Mr Ashley, who is 45 and from Manor Court Road and Mr Woodward, aged 51 and from Leamington Spa, both deny manslaughter by gross negligence.
In a statement, Fire Brigade Union general secretary Matt Wrack said members had noted the verdict and will continue to monitor the legal proceedings.
“The threat of prosecution has been hanging over Paul since November 2007 when four of his fellow firefighters died at Atherstone on Stour,” said the union chief.
“Paul Simmons and his family are greatly relieved at the ‘not guilty’ verdict.
There are also the families of those who died and our thoughts remain with them as they continue to deal with their tragic loss.
“Those families, the colleagues of those who died, and firefighters and officers across the UK want to get to the bottom of what happened on that night.”
He added: “Our concern from other firefighter deaths in recent years is that lessons are not being fully learned or addressed. And that ‘old’ lessons we learned at great cost are being forgotten.
“Four firefighters died in tragic and terrible circumstances.
“We have a duty to the families of those who died, their colleagues and firefighters across the UK, who are still going into burning buildings, to learn lessons and to make our work as safe as it can be in the very hazardous and hostile environments that we work in.”
The firefighters who died as a result of the huge vegetable packing plant blaze were 20-year-old Ashley Stephens, 27- year-old John Averis, 24-year-old Darren Yates-Badley and 44-year-old Ian Reid.