Mum told of son’s death via ‘gossip’

Daniel Howard's coffin is carried to his funeral in Cobar back in 2014. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Daniel Howard's coffin is carried to his funeral in Cobar back in 2014. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Genevieve Howard learnt of her firefighter son's death "through gossip" hours after "important people" at Fire and Rescue NSW had been told.

Daniel Howard, 37, died after a wall of the New Occidental Hotel in Cobar collapsed onto him and a fellow firefighter battling a blaze in August 2014.

The much-loved electrician worked part-time with Fire and Rescue NSW but hadn't been properly trained to deal with the complex fire, his mother said outside the Glebe Coroners Court last week where an inquest into Mr Howard's death has resumed.

She slammed FRNSW's handling of the incident and subsequent investigation.

"They need to have processes in place where they let the next of kin know when their family have been killed because ... nobody told us," Ms Howard said.

She found out "through gossip" about three hours after her son died when a friend called to pass on their condolences.

"Had we turned on the TV we would have seen it on the news, and it was all over Facebook," she said.

"All the important people had been told but not his next of kin and his family."

Ms Howard hopes fire training improves so the same thing doesn't happen to somebody else.

"He was a retained firefighter, they get a different level of training to permanent firefighters, and they weren't prepared for what they were confronted with," she said.

She said if a safety officer had been at the scene to assess the fire as a whole, her son "would have been told to get out of there because there were signs that the wall was coming down".

"They (Fire & Rescue NSW) need to put processes in place whereby they train their firies to deal with these things."

Ms Howard says the past three years have "been a nightmare" as she fights to uphold her son's reputation as a "local character" who "just wanted to give back to the community".

She took issue with a Fire & Rescue NSW report that she says implied her son didn't follow the chain of command and essentially caused his own death.

His electrician business relied on his knowledge and implementation of safety, she said.

"He certainly wasn't going to put his life or anybody else's life in danger".

The inquest continues before Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame.

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