Derbyshire firefighters get compensation after water training left them sick

The National Watersports Centre in Nottingham.
The National Watersports Centre in Nottingham.

Derbyshire firefighters are to receive compensation after being sent for training in polluted water which caused sickness.

Several flood rescue training sessions took place at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham between 2008 and 2012, and despite being warned by solicitors that the water at the centre was polluted, fire brigade bosses continued sending firefighters there.

The centre’s water flowed from the River Trent, a polluted source which had been found to contain harmful pathogens and bacteria. The physically demanding training resulted in the firefighters ingesting the infected water, which later led to diarrhoea and sickness.

Almost all of the firefighters fell ill after the training course, and the Fire Brigades Union instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate the claims on behalf of some of their South West based members. Thompsons’ investigation found that the water at the centre posed a public health risk and went on to secure compensation for the firefighters who had become ill.

However, despite this investigation and evidence showing their illnesses had been caused by the dirty water at the National Watersports Centre, the venue was still advertised to other brigades as a training location.

Between 2009 and 2012, more firefighters from across the UK attended the site and suffered the same physical symptoms, including crews from Derbyshire.

Kevin Digby of Thompsons Solicitors said: “The brigades were adamant that the training was safe despite expert evidence in numerous cases to the contrary.

“Their suggestion that those attending the training course could or should have taken more care not to swallow the water during the sessions when it was a training session would be laughable were it not for the impact on the firefighters health.

“The brigades are meant as employers to guard FBU members from foreseeable risk, not arrogantly ignore facts staring them in the face. Sixty-six FBU members have been laid low by this failure and there are many others who have been affected. Listening to your staff, listening to experts and basic health and safety isn’t rocket science.”