International Workers' Memorial Day

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Assistant Chief Officer's poignant message on work place safety

International Workers Memorial Day April 213 

THE human cost of fire in the work place should never be forgotten the head of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's (SFRS) Fire Prevention and Protection teams said in a key lecture commemorating International Workers' Memorial Day (28th April 2013).

Lord Provost Bob Duncan opened Friday's lecture (26th April), jointly organised by Dundee City Council and Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland (WPCS), a Scotland-wide charity providing chaplains for some 700 business outlets and public services, including SFRS and the city council.

Introducing Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay, WPCS East Area Organiser, Chic Lidstone spoke of the need to stop and reflect on the value of life and reminded the invited audience in Dundee City Chambers of the International Workers' Memorial Day catchline: Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living.

In a brief history of fire protection and regulation over the years, Mr Ramsay said current fire protection laws made the working environment much safer for Scotland's workers than they were even a few years ago. Thanks to improved regulations, incidences of fatal fires in Scotland had gone down by 30% in the past decade and: “the built environment has never been safer.”

However those developments had been driven by “tragic loss”, something he deeply regretted.

Earlier Mr Ramsay recalled being on duty at the traumatic 2004 Stockline Plastics Factory fire in Glasgow, in which nine people died and 33 others were seriously injured.

“These were people who simply reported for work or who chose to visit certain premises on a particular day,” he said. “I truly hope I never again have to attend another Stockline, or another care home where 14 elderly people died (Uddingston 2004). These events stay with you and serve as a reminder to us all of how fragile the working environment can be.”

Mr Ramsay also paid tribute to the firefighters, at home and abroad who had lost their lives in the line of duty over the years: “They have been called: 'the bravest of the brave,' and indeed they are,”  he said, adding that work on a new Firefighters' Heritage Trail due to be launched shortly, would honour fallen firefighters across Scotland.

On the creation of the all-Scotland Fire and Rescue Service which came into operation on April 1 this year, Mr Ramsay said the benefits were already being experienced. In the case of fire safety, having a single consistent approach to regulations meant Scotland was: “in the best possible position to bring together best practice, the envy of every UK fire service”.

Dundee City Council's environment convener Councillor Craig Melville said it was particularly pleasing to hear of the continuing advancement in fire regulation and prevention adding that, thanks to the council's partnership with WPCS, the lecture had been placed firmly on the map as one of the main International Workers' Memorial Day events in the country.

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay is pictured above with Chic Lidstone, WPCS East Area Organiser.