A Bray fireman broke down a number of times in court while he described crawling through a fire to pull a deceased colleague out of a burning building.
Brian Murray (46) and Mark O’Shaughnessy (26) died fighting a blaze at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas in Bray on September 26, 2007.
Wicklow County Council, which runs the fire service, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four charges relating to alleged criminal breaches under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, between September 1, 2005 and September 26, 2007.
On day six of the trial, Eddie McCann described how he and his colleague, Tony Horan, went into the building to rescue their colleagues, who had gone in earlier to fight the fire.
Mr McCann told Alex Owens SC, prosecuting, that the conditions inside the building were “horrendous”. He said: “It was a tremendous heat. Unbelievable. It was like a furnace”.
He said that the two of them got down on their stomachs and began crawling through the building.
Mr McCann became overcome with emotion a number of times during his testimony and at one point he asked to take a break.
He said he was trying to fight the fire using a technique called “pulsing”. This involves short quick bursts of water or foam to create a fine mist that changes the nature of the fire.
He said when he tried this with the new foam mix they were using that day it didn't work the way he expected it to. He said: “I tried to pulse again. It was having no affect.”
He said he and Mr Horan came out and re-entered the building two or three times. At one point he decided to switch the foam hose with a water hose.
He said: “We went back in on our stomachs. I pulsed up with the hose but the pressure on the
hose reel wasn't great. I kept looking for Brian. I was saying, 'Brian, Brian'”.
He said he heard a loud bang right in front of him. He managed to find Mr Murray's hose again and grabbed it and followed it along the ground.
He said: “The smoke had started to clear a bit. Visibility was better. I saw reflective bands on leggings and I knew it was one of the lads. There was a piece of wood over it.”
He said he grabbed the straps of the man's breathing apparatus and started to pull him back towards the door. He roared ‘I got him’.”
He said that when they all got to the door they took the man's mask off. Mr McCann told the court: “I knew it was Mark. His hair was standing up. I knew he was dead. I fell out of the doorway. I was wrecked. I fell out. I was f**king roasting.”
He told counsel that he did not receive hot fire training using this new Compressed Air Foam system (CAFS).
Under cross examination he told Aileen Donnelly SC, defending, that during a talk on CAFS in advance of getting the new system, he was told that it was not possible to “pulse” using this foam system.
The trial continues before Judge Desmond Hogan and a jury of seven men and four women.