Firefighters claim for damages over injuries

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A FORMER footballer and a firefighting colleague are each claiming damages for being injured by falling brickwork as they tackled a blaze.

Brian Dempsie, 29, and Ross French, 36, blame a senior officer for the accident in Bothwell, South Lanarkshire, almost five years ago.

Only a few weeks earlier, Mr Dempsie’s uncle, the Scotland international footballer Phil O’Donnell, had died after suffering heart failure during a match. Mr Dempsie had also been a professional player before joining the fire service.

Strathclyde Fire Board is disputing the damages claims, insisting the officer properly carried out all his duties.

The Court of Session heard that a fire crew was called to a house in Bothwell in the early morning of 1 February, 2008, and found flames coming through the roof of a garage.

There was a car with a full tank of petrol inside, and the watch commander, James Clark, decided it was necessary to open the front door of the garage to fight the blaze.

Mr French used a crowbar to try to prise it open, but the brickwork above the door collapsed onto him and his 

Mr Dempsie, of Hamilton, was a footballer with Motherwell FC between 1999 and 2003.

The court heard that Mr Dempsie had been two years into his firefighting career but was unable to return to operational duties because of his injuries. He suffered two dislocated shoulders, a fractured kneecap and ankle, and burns.

Mr French, of Uddingston, sustained two broken legs and needed surgery and extensive skin grafting. His vision in one eye had also been affected, and he, too, had been unfit to return to full duties.

The judge will give a ruling later.