GREATER Manchester Fire Service had been praised for its risk-assessment procedures leading up to death of a firefighter who drowned in a lodge, a court heard.

Divisional officer Paul Argyle told a jury at Bolton Crown Court that the Home Office was recommending Greater Manchester's methods to the UK's 50 other brigades, before the death of firefighter Paul Metcalf at Simon's Lodge, Holcombe Brook.

Sub-officer Metcalf (40), of Whalley Road, Shuttleworth, drowned on September 5, 1999, after entering the water with a rope around his waist while trying to save 15-year-old Darul Uloom student Reyaz Ali.

Greater Manchester Fire and Civil Defence Authority has pleaded not guilty to failing to ensure, so far as it is practicable, the safety of its employees for operations in, on or near water.

The prosecution was brought by the Health and Safety Inspectorate.

Tim Horlock QC, prosecuting, suggested that Greater Manchester Fire Service had demonstrated a haphazard approach to risk-assessment prior to Mr Argyle being appointed as part of a special team to focus on the subject.

The judge was summing up on Thursday.