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Council trial over firemen blaze deaths

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Firefighters Mark O' Shaughnessy and Brian Murray

Firefighters Mark O' Shaughnessy and Brian Murray

Firefighters Mark O' Shaughnessy and Brian Murray

A LOCAL authority has gone on trial over allegations of breaches of health and safety after the death of two firefighters in a derelict 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 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.

 

Trapped

Thomas Murphy, Director of Enterprise and Corporate Services at Wicklow County Council, entered the plea on behalf of the defendants.

Opening the case, Alex Owens, prosecuting, explained the meaning of the different charges to the jury.

He said the first charge alleges that Wicklow County Council failed to ensure the safety of its employees which resulted in personal injury.

Mr Owens told the jury that a lack of clear 'rules of engagement' resulted in two firefighters being exposed to 'unnecessary risk' after they entered the unused building.

He added that the men were ordered out of the building by their fire chief but got trapped inside after the fire spread.

It is the prosecution's case that Wicklow County Council failed to introduce clear guidelines on dealing with this type of fire and should have sent two fire engines to the scene rather than just one.

He said the second charge relates to the Bray Fire Brigade safety statement, which was drawn up between 1992 and 1994 but never revised.

Mr Owens said the defendant had failed to revise the safety statement.

The court heard that the third charge relates to the lack of a proper risk assessment of the firefighters in the region.

Speaking about the fourth charge, Mr Owens said it is the prosecution's case that the fire-fighters were not trained to use a new fire engine which was in use on the day of the incident.

He said Bray Fire Brigade had accepted delivery of the vehicle, which uses a combination of water, foam and compressed air, in July 2007, but it was not operated correctly on the day of the incident.

Mr Owens told the jury that this was not a tribunal against Wicklow County Council, and asked them to focus on the specific charges.

The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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