Union in the dark over fire chief’s suspension

Gary Thompson
Gary Thompson

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said it has no further information about why Northern Ireland’s chief fire officer has been suspended from duty.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service last night revealed that Gary Thompson has been placed on “precautionary suspension” with immediate effect, but did not say why.

“Precautionary suspension is a neutral action in line with Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service policies and procedures,” a NIFRS statement said.

“NIFRS is not in a position to make any further comment at this time.

“The NIFRS Board, in conjunction with Department of Health, will now consider and put in place interim arrangements to ensure the continued delivery of our service to the public.”

Mr Thompson, who lives in the Newtownabbey area, was appointed to his post on November 7, 2016 and has more than two decades experience with the NI Fire and Rescue Service.

Speaking to the News Letter about Mr Thompson’s suspension, FBU representative Jim Quinn said it had come as “quite a shock”.

“We have no information and no other knowledge about what is going on other than what was in the (NIFRS) press statement,” he said.

“We haven’t been asked to represent anybody at this moment in time.”