Thursday 19 January 2017

Husband-to-be died 'fighting fire' in coffin factory

Elaine Keogh

Published 15/12/2015 | 02:30

Mr Sinica had been cleaning spider webs with a 3m pole with a cloth attached to it when he 'inadvertently hit a lead'
Mr Sinica had been cleaning spider webs with a 3m pole with a cloth attached to it when he 'inadvertently hit a lead'
Vaidas Bivainis (cousin, left) and Jurijus Sapkinas (co-worker) at the inquest into the death of Ramunas Sinica. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

The inquest into the death of a 30-year-old employee who died after a fire at a coffin-making factory has heard he tried to put out the blaze while his colleagues made their escape.

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The inquest also heard claims that a fire exit in the building was blocked "with coffins".

Lithuanian Ramunas Sinica was identified using DNA from his daughter, Drogheda Coroner's Court heard yesterday.

Inspector Martin Convey, from the Health and Safety Authority, said that Mr Sinica, from William Street, Ardee, Co Louth, had died as a result of the fire at Finlay's Funeral Services in Ardee on March 3 last year.

Mr Sinica (below) had been cleaning spider webs with a 3m pole with a cloth attached to it when he "inadvertently hit a lead". That caused a light-fitting to spark, Mr Convey told the inquest.

The spark ignited dust in the workshop and "rather than flee as his colleagues did", Mr Convey said the deceased "had attempted to fight the fire with water".

In reply to barrister Brenda Power, for Mr Sinica's family, he said that "water on that type of fire would be the wrong thing to do". He said it would be "very difficult" to foresee that a fire could be caused by the cleaning he was doing.

He said that the company was prosecuted for health and safety breaches related to technical issues "not directly related to the death". A court fined the company €21,000 for technical breaches of the safety, health and welfare at work act.

Mr Jurijus Sapkinas, a co-worker of the deceased, said that when the fire began he shouted at the deceased "drop everything and run", and he believed Mr Sinica was behind him as he left the scene.

In reply to Ms Power, he said the closest fire exit was "five to six metres" from Mr Sinica who was "running to the water tap".

He alleged the fire exit was blocked "with coffins".

Pathologist Dr John Ryan said a post-mortem had concluded death was due to cardio-respiratory failure because of smoke inhalation and due to thermal injuries.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Sinica's cousin Vaidas Bivainis said "he was a big-hearted person", who was due to marry three months after the fire.

Irish Independent

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