Saturday 20 January 2018

'Narrative verdicts' returned at inquest of fire fighters who died in Bray blaze

The Coroner's Court in Dublin
The Coroner's Court in Dublin

The jury in the inquest into the deaths of Bray firefighters Brian Murray and Mark O'Shaughnessy has returned narrative verdicts.

Fire fighters Brian Murray (46) and Mark O’Shaughnessy (26) died during a sudden escalation of a fire at Adelaide Villas in Bray on September 26 2007.

Experts giving evidence during the long running inquest agreed that a sudden acceleration of the fire occurred at 11.08am, creating conditions incompatible with life. However there was no agreement as to what caused the fireball that claimed the lives of the two firemen.

“What we are looking at here is a disagreement between the experts,” Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said.

Expert's reports attributed the fireball to flammable liquids in containers dumped illegally in the factory and to air pockets that caused the roof to collapse and further fuel the blaze.

“We can’t say for sure it was instantaneous death but it appears to have been instantaneous unconsciousness,” the coroner said.

The jury heard of a number of operational issues at Bray Fire Station during the inquest, including problems with an alerter system used to call for back up and the absence of training provided to fire fighters in the use of CAFS (compressed air foam system) used to fight the fire.

Last October, Wicklow County Council, the local fire authority, was fined €355,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety violations in relation to the incident.

Today at Dublin Coroner's Court, counsel for Wicklow County Council Luán Ó Braonáin SC said the fact that there were health and safety failures did not mean that the failures resulted in the deaths of the men.

Earlier today, the inquest heard from Ian Mawhinney, former Managing Director of Browns Coachworks, the Lisburn based manufacturer of the fire truck used at the scene of the fatal fire.

Giving evidence via video link, Mr Mawinney said fire fighters were ‘familiarised’ with the appliance by his colleague Terry Bryans, who delivered the fire truck to Bray Fire Station.

Asked what Mr Bryans' qualifications were, Mr Mawhinney said his colleague was a ‘coach builder.’

“He would have been familiar with how the vehicle was operated, how to drive it, but not how to use it,” Mr Mawhinney said.

Asked if the induction course delivered by Mr Bryans consisted of familiarisation and not training, Mr Mawhinney said, ‘that is correct.’

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