THE Mayor of Greater Manchester has told frontline firefighters they do not have anything to apologise for in the aftermath of the Kerslake Review.

Andy Burnham has penned an open later after it was revealed fire crews were sent away from the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing and took two hours to attend.

The review found poor communications meant chief fire officers kept trained responders away.

Mr Burnham has written the letter after reading comments from firefighters and said they should be proud for speaking out.

He said: "Over the past few days, it has been hard to read comments from firefighters on duty on the night of the Manchester Arena attack.

"Some have spoken of their shame and even asked for forgiveness from the people of Greater Manchester.

"While I understand why people feel like this, it is important for me to say that I think they are wrong. No frontline firefighter in Greater Manchester has to apologise for anything. You and colleagues did nothing wrong on that night.

"In fact, I know that you were desperate to help but were prevented from doing so by decisions taken above you. The failure is not yours but one of process, leadership and culture.

"I know this because you told me of your concerns in the days after the attack. This prompted me to commit to an indepedent report into what happened and that has been published this week.

"Let me be clear: you were right to speak out and you should be proud that you did. I want a culture in our fire service where people are able to raise concerns more freely on an ongoing basis. I want the views of frontline firefighters to be at the heart of every decision our fire service makes."

Dawn Docx, interim chief fire officer at GMFRS, has said the response by the service fell 'far short' of what the people of Greater Manchester have the right to expect and apologised unreservedly.

Mr Burnham pledged to continue involving firefighters in decision making.

He said: "I made this commitment to you at a meeting in the days after I was elected. I said I would also be prepared to see things from your perspective and walk in your shoes before I made any decision affecting your work.

"I was privileged to shadow one of your crews on Bonfire Night and it led me afterwards to review decisions made before I was elected.

"From here, I now want to widen that review to include all aspects of Fire and Rescue Service with a view to building an organisation that empowers its staff.

"But I want you to know that we are building on strong foundations. In the last few days, crews have attended mill fires in Rochdale and Stalybridge and a school fire in Leigh. I know that these communities could not be more appreciative of what you did. Day in and day out, you and your colleagues do an outstanding job of protecting the public and saving lives, often putting yourselves at risk.

"Difficult as this week has been, I think we will look back on it as a turning point in our fire service's proud history when we resolved to make it a service where the excellence of the frontline is matched by everything above it."

The attack at the arena killed 22 people and injured many more and many members of the emergency services have been honoured for their bravery that night.

Vodafone has also been criticised for problems setting up an emergency phoneline.