Fire control room operator tells inquiry into Manchester Arena bombing she failed to read and pass on ‘significant information’ in the aftermath of the deadly attack

  • Rochelle Fallon worked in North West Fire Control room on night of terror attack 
  • After blast, she was told by police a meeting point had been set up at cathedral
  • Ms Fallon failed to pass this on to fire crews who were gathered three miles away
  • She told inquiry she had not had any scenario training which may have helped

A control room operator has accepted she failed to record or pass on pieces of ‘significant information’ in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing.

Rochelle Fallon was working in the control room of North West Fire Control (NWFC) on the night of the terror attack in May 2017, and fielded numerous calls.

The public inquiry into the atrocity, which killed 22 people and injured hundreds of others, has heard that fire crews did not attend the scene for more than two hours as they awaited further details of the incident.

Firefighters with specialist equipment were instructed to gather three miles from the scene, as members of the public, police and Arena staff moved casualties from the blast scene at the City Room foyer.

On Monday Ms Fallon’s boss, Sarah-Jane Wilson, told the hearing that failures from NWFC in passing key information to fire officers contributed to the lengthy delay in crews arriving.

Within the first half hour after the explosion, among calls logged by NWFC was that police officers were arriving, ambulances were en route and a paramedic incident commander was on site.

North West Fire Service Control room operator Rochelle Fallon (pictured) told the Manchester Bombing inquiry she failed to record or pass on ‘significant information’ in the aftermath

A breakdown in communication meant the fire service did not arrive at the Manchester Arena bombing until more than two hours later (pictured), the inquiry into the terror attack has heard

Ten minutes after the blast Ms Fallon was told by a Greater Manchester Police (GMP) call operator that a rendezvous point for emergency services outside Manchester Cathedral car park had been nominated with supervisors and officers attending.

Asked why she had failed to log that information, Ms Fallon said: ‘It just must not have registered.’

She agreed with Nick de la Poer QC, counsel to the inquiry, that it was ‘significant information’.

By 11.10pm, when a senior fire officer called for an update, the log contained information that ambulances had been directed to the booking office and a paramedic incident commander was on scene, but Ms Fallon did not mention that on the call.

Pictured: Hashem Abedi, 23, admitted his role in the deadly attack which killed 22 people

She told the hearing it was ‘easy to miss’ such updates because of the small nature of the screen, the time it could take to upload when refreshing and also navigating ‘system-generated nonsense’.

But she added: ‘I should have given him that information and I haven’t. I’m not going to blame the system for that. The information was there if I had taken the time to read through it.’

Ms Fallon told the inquiry that before the attack she had not received any scenario-based training.

She said: ‘I think the only way to really learn the job of a control room operator is to actually do it, and to experience different incident types and work through them.

‘If we had had some practical training I think that probably would have been much, much better.’

The inquiry continues on Wednesday.

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

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