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Radio alerts for fatal fire 'not received'

TWO alert calls to Greystones Fire Station by Bray Fire Station requesting assistance to deal with a fatal fire were not received, a trial has heard.

Brian Murray (46) and Mark O'Shaughnessy (26) died fighting the 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.

On day three of the trial John Whiston, a fire control operator with Wicklow Fire Service, said that he received two calls at around 10.42 that morning about smoke coming from the old factory. He said he alerted the crew which was on the scene a minute later.

He said at 10.59 the crew made a "pumps two" request which is a request for a second engine. He said this is standard in situations when there is a threat to persons. Mr Whiston said he then alerted the second crew which was on call.

A minute later the first crew made a "pumps three" request.

PROBLEM

He told Alex Owens , prosecuting, that this meant alerting the next nearest brigade in the county. He then alerted Greystones through a radio alert system that was in place.

He said four minutes later he sent a second radio alert to Greystones as he had not received a response.

At 11.10am he decided there appeared to be a communication problem with Greystones and he used a secure telephone system to contact them.

He said a few minutes later an official from Greystones responded via that telephone system and confirmed he had not received the two radio alerts.

Mr Whiston said he told Greystones they needed a third fire engine to attend. At this stage three Bray firefighters had come to the watch room in Bray but had no driver.

Mr Whiston said he asked Greystones to "swing by" and pick up these men.

It is part of 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.

The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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