NFCC responds to Kerslake Review into the Manchester bombing

Following the publication of the Kerslake Review into the Manchester bombing, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has committed to addressing its recommendations relating to fire and rescue services.

This work will be undertaken through its national Operations Coordination Committee and regular updates will be reported to the NFCC Chair.

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher said: “The NFCC will be addressing the recommendations of the Kerslake review as they relate to the Fire and Rescue Service.

 “Our position is that the Fire and Rescue Service has a duty to respond to terrorist incidents as a fundamental element of the Firefighters role.

“We will ensure that the lessons identified through Kerslake are learned and acted upon by the Fire and Rescue Service as a priority.

 “The UK fire and rescue service has an excellent track record in responding to risk; however we need to ensure we can adapt and meet risks as they emerge. The recommendations of this review will provide this focus and we will work closely with our emergency services partners to take these forward.

 Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has also responded to the report which can be found on its website.

Interim Chief Fire Officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Dawn Docx thanked Lord Kerslake and the panel for ‘their openness in conducting the review and writing their report, and the respect they have shown to our firefighters throughout the process.

“We accept the findings of the report and as part of our new position within the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), work is already underway to fully implement the recommendations. We must ensure that the principles of partnership working are deeply embedded within the service. This is about us acting together as one, which I know every firefighter will agree with.”

 The Kerslake Review – which makes 50 recommendations - investigated how emergency services and other organisations responded to the bomb incident in May 2017, where 22 people lost their lives. It was commissioned by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester.

 Key findings and recommendations include:  

  • Investment in emergency planning meant people were generally able to act with a high degree of confidence.
  • Actions by individuals and organisations on the night demonstrated enormous bravery and compassion.
  • Good judgement was exercised by was exercised key emergency personnel at critical points during the evening.
  • The civic response was exceptional.
  • Vital support and comfort was provided by family liaison officers and bereavement nurses.
  • The removal of the deceased from the Arena was treated with care and sensitivity.

Major issues for learning:

  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) did not arrive at the scene and therefore played no meaningful role in the response for two hours. That meant a valuable resource was not available to assist on the scene.
  • GMFRS must reflect on the poor communication, poor procedures and issues of operational culture which caused its failure to respond properly.
  • The set-up of an effective emergency response line for families was seriously hampered by the complete failure of a telephony system provided by Vodafone. This caused considerable distress on the night to families who were frantically seeking to find out more information about what had happened to their loved ones.
  • The panel was shocked and dismayed by the accounts of the families of their experiences with some of the media. They spoke of being ‘hounded’ and of a ‘lack of respect’. The Panel believes that for families to have experienced such intrusive and overbearing behaviour at a time of such vulnerability was completely and utterly unacceptable. 
  • There were multiple duties on the Police Gold Commander and the Force Duty Officer on the night that were extremely wide ranging and testing. The Panel identifies some issues of communication between the Police and other agencies that were a consequence of this.
  • The strength of the response for support and care for the families directly affected was not always carried through beyond the early period. In particular, the issue of continuing access to mental health services was highlighted by a number of the families.

The report makes a number of recommendations for the Greater Manchester emergency services, Government, other local and national bodies and the media.

It can be read in full at

Key findings

Full report


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