Two firemen killed by a blast at a fireworks depot might not have died if they had received relevant training, a jury has heard.
According to the BBC, firemen Geoff Wicker and Brian Wembridge died in an explosion at a farm in East Sussex in December 2006. The argument that the training received by the fire-fighters was insufficient was put forward by the defence lawyer for Alpha Fireworks boss Martin Winter and his son Nathan, both of whom denied the charge of manslaughter at Lewes Crown Court.
20 other people were injured in the blast which occurred when a metal container illegally packed with fireworks exploded following a fire, causing fragments of the container to fly in all directions.
The defence lawyer argued specifically that it was part of the duty of the fire officers at the scene to be aware of the dangers of a blaze involving fireworks and to take appropriate safety precautions to tackle said blaze.
The lawyer referred to the regulations provided by the Health and Safety Executive on explosives which states “”if a fire is established and involves explosives or threatens to spread to them, evacuate to a distance of 600m”.
Indeed, Nathan Winter is said to have warned the fire fighters of the risk of a serious explosion but his claims are alleged not to have been taken seriously due to his age.
The question of whether the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service endangered their own men by not providing appropriate training is a valid one. Due to the dangerous nature of their job, it seems appropriate that they should have been provided with more information on how to combat a fire/explosion of this type.
Fireworks are not an uncommon occurrence for fire fighters to deal with and as such there might be a case made that the fire service fell below the duty of care that they owed their employees.