Chappel: Fire chiefs start investigation into address mix-up

FIRE officers have this evening launched an investigation into a house fire in which a disabled woman died after it was revealed crews were initially sent to the wrong address.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has today hit out at claims by the Fire Brigades Union that a full-time crew from Colchester should have attended the fire in The Street, Chappel, in the early hours of Friday morning.

They say the claims have “forced [their] hand” and prompted fire chiefs to launch an investigation tomorrow into the circumstances surrounding the fire.

This comes after 79-year-old Joanna Ball died in the fire at her two-storey semi-detached home.

Crews from Halstead were initially sent to Chappel but a second call from fire control redirected them to Mount Bures, three miles away from the site of the fire.

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But Essex Chief Fire Officer David Johnson said this evening: “Though there is absolutely no suggestion that our Control team and Halstead firefighters did anything other than what would be expected of them, the FBU – in its attempt to make political mileage out of an unfortunate tragedy – has forced our hand.

“We now have to conduct a full investigation so that the public and the press can be convinced that the actions of ECFRS staff in no way contributed to this death.”

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He added: “The comments made by Mick Rogers and other FBU officials, like so many that have gone before, are malicious and based on nothing more than hearsay, which records of the incident prove cannot be substantiated in any way.

“But now the focus has been brought to the incident, we have to conduct an investigation to prove there was no cover up. Once again they have shot their own members in the foot.

“To suggest that the outcome would have been different had wholetime firefighters been sent onto the job – even though the journey time clearly made this ridiculous – attacks once again the fantastic contribution made by our retained crews who time and again come in for unjust criticism from FBU officials and their followers.”

- Read tomorrow’s paper for the full story and reaction.

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