Firefighters told to use device with no training, inquest hears
FIREfighters at Bray Fire Station were ordered to use a new appliance without training because of a belief that none was required, an inquest heard.
Firefighters Brian Murray (46) and Mark O'Shaughnessy (25) died on September 26, 2007 almost three months after a new appliance equipped with CAFS (compressed air-foam system) was delivered to the station.
Giving evidence at an inquest into their deaths yesterday, Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Wicklow Fire Service Tadhg O'Shea said: "When the system was sold to us, we were told there was no special training required.".
Answering questions put to him by William Hamilton, counsel for the Murray family, Mr O'Shea said the appliance, equipped with the CAFS system, was sent out for use as soon as it arrived at the station.
"I don't see any problem sending out the appliance because it is essentially the same as the previous one," he said.
Mr O'Shea was asked if he had researched the new system ahead of its arrival at Bray Fire Station.
"I didn't. There was research done by the Department of Environment.
"The view I took was, why would the department sanction it if it was unsuitable?"
Mr Murray and Mr O'Shaughnessy died as they fought a blaze at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas in Bray, Co Wicklow.
The inquest before the Dublin coroner heard there was no official debriefing by the fire service following the tragic incident.
Mr O'Shea is the first senior fire officer to give evidence.
Colleague Joanne O'Connor, Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer with responsibility for training, also gave evidence yesterday. Ms O'Connor said she had only heard positive things about the CAFS system and was unaware of any limitations to its use.
"There were no warning bells," she said. "If we even thought there was a question mark over it, it would not have been used."
Asked if firefighters received adequate training in relation to the introduction of CAFS, Ms O'Connor said: "Given what I was told, it seemed adequate at the time."
The inquest continues today.