A senior fire officer has apologised for the ‘woeful’ response to the Manchester Arena bombing as crews took more than hours to attend the scene.
David Keelan, assistant county fire officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘I wanted to say to those who have lost loved ones, to all those who were injured and to those that were affected … I apologise for our woeful and unacceptable response to that incident.
‘We let you down when you needed us the most.’
David Keelan, assistant county fire officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, pictured, said he was not on the rota to work the night of the terror attack. He said after going home he exchanged calls and messages with colleagues before going to bed
The inquiry heard that the first fire fighters entered the scene, pictured, at 12.49am on May 23, more than two hours after the bomb detonated
Hashem Abedi, 23, admitted his role in the deadly attack which killed 22 people
On Wednesday, Mr Keelan told the public inquiry into the May 2017 terror attack that he had been off duty when he returned home from dinner and saw events unfolding on the television news.
After several phone calls and messages with colleagues, he then went to bed – but not to sleep, he said.
Mr Keelan said he was aware that, ‘in essence’ only, the chief fire officer, Peter O’Reilly, was on rota in a leadership role.
He told the hearing: ‘I knew at some point, either throughout that evening or into the early hours of the next day, I would have to take over the strategic responsibility for the organisation so I needed to make sure I was in a capable manner to do so.
‘I didn’t sleep, I rested. But I was occupied and conscious with other things at the time.’
Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked: ‘So, insofar as any criticism has been levelled at you through other witnesses for the fact that you took some rest, that is a criticism that you would wholeheartedly reject?’
Mr Keelan replied: ‘Yes, sir. I needed to be ready for what I might I have to do later on that morning.’
The 22 victims of the terror attack during the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May 2017. (top row left to right) Off-duty police officer Elaine McIver, 43, Saffie Roussos, 8, Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, Eilidh MacLeod, 14, (second row left to right) Nell Jones, 14, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, 15, Megan Hurley, 15, Georgina Callander, 18, (third row left to right), Chloe Rutherford,17, Liam Curry, 19, Courtney Boyle, 19, and Philip Tron, 32, (fourth row left to right) John Atkinson, 26, Martyn Hett, 29, Kelly Brewster, 32, Angelika Klis, 39, (fifth row left to right) Marcin Klis, 42, Michelle Kiss, 45, Alison Howe, 45, and Lisa Lees, 43 (fifth row left to right) Wendy Fawell, 50 and Jane Tweddle, 51