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Tragic heroes 'not trained on new system'

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Brian Murray, firefighter. Photo: Doug O'Connor

Brian Murray, firefighter. Photo: Doug O'Connor

Brian Murray, firefighter. Photo: Doug O'Connor

FIREFIGHTERS at Bray Fire Station were ordered to use a new appliance without training because of a belief that no training was required.

Brian Murray (46) and Mark O'Shaughnessy (25) died in a blaze in an abandoned factory in Bray on September 26, 2007, almost three months after a new appliance equipped with CAFS (a 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 he understood there was no training required to use the new system.

"When the system was sold to us we were told there was no special training required," he said.

Mr O'Shea told counsel for the Murray family, William Hamilton BL, that he did not see any problem sending out the appliance "because it is essentially the same as the previous one".

As officer in charge of procurement and equipment at Wicklow Fire Service, Mr O'Shea was asked by Mr Hamilton if he had read a system manual and CD delivered with the new appliance. Mr O'Shea said he had not.

Mr O'Shea was asked if he had researched the new system ahead of its arrival at Bray Fire Station.

VIOLATIONS

"I didn't. The view I took was, 'Why would the department sanction it if it was unsuitable?'" he said.

Mr Murray and Mr O'Shaughnessy died as they fought the fire at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas in Bray.

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. The inquest before the Dublin coroner heard there was no official debriefing by the fire service afterwards.

Mr O'Shea's colleague, Joanne O'Connor, Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer with responsibility for training, also gave evidence.

Ms O'Connor said she had only heard positive things about the CAFS 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," she said.

The inquest continues today.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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