Hurt firefighter out of hospital

by Lars Plougmann

Three Fire Brigade Union members were hit and hurt on Monday by speeding vehicles.

One of the pickets, Tamer Ozdemir, was taken to St. George’s hospital in Tooting with injuries to his spleen and spine. He has since been discharged and is resting at home.

A non-union manager at Croydon fire station was arrested at the scene and police are investigating the incident.

Fire Brigades Union President, Mick Shaw, who witnessed the incident, said he saw a fire engine returning from an accident drive into the fire station followed by a car. The drivers did not communicate with the pickets and the car accelerated.  A striking firefighter was thrown into the windscreen.

He said: “We asked the AssetCo employees, who had control of our fire station, for the first aid kit and some blankets, but they would not give them to us despite the obviously serious nature of the injuries.”

“An ambulance was called at once, and the ambulance crew asked for an air ambulance.  Our member was not able to move during the 25 minutes between being hit and being taken away in the ambulance.”

According to the FBU, other accidents happened two hours after the strike ended, at around 8 p.m, when Dagenham firefighter Graham Beers was hit by a fire engine that was being returned to Southwark fire station. Mr. Beers is now suffering from a sprained and badly bruised hand and injured ribs.

Almost at the same time, a fire engine hit FBU London Representative, Ian Lehair, at Southwark fire station. According to the FBU,  the pickets yelled at the driver to reverse.  He did  so when instructed by the police. A video of this incident can be seen here.

A FBU spokesman said: “Ian Lehair’s legs and half his body were underneath the fire engine and he was clearly in pain.  If he had been standing an inch or so further left, his legs would have been crushed under the fire engine’s wheels.”

“There was no reason to do this.  The driver cannot have felt in any way intimidated.  He could see at least 50 police officers who would have protected him, had any violence been offered, which it was not.”

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said today: “An incredible pattern seems to be emerging.  We ended the day in the extraordinary situation where the police had to protect striking firefighters from recklessly speeding vehicles, which were driven by those paid to break the strike.”

He added: “I wonder whether the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and the others who have spent the past week condemning the FBU for our industrial action will now condemn this violence against us.”

Ozdemir said later: “I just want the Fire Brigade management and the union to go into a room and lock the door, and not come out before they agree something.”

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said on Tuesday: “During demonstrations at Croydon Fire Station, one person, believed to be a demonstrator, was injured after being hit by a car. The London Ambulance Service was called at 3.20pm and a man was taken to hospital with pelvic injuries. Due to the large number of protestors at the station and the reported incident, London Fire Brigade suspended use of the fire station.”

Leave a Reply