UK fire service to appeal against liability ruling
06 September 2013
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) has said it will appeal against a judge’s decision that the deaths of two firemen in a fireworks factory explosion were preventable and that it is liable for compensation. Fire service cameraman Brian Wembridge and firefighter Geoff Wicker died in an explosion at the Festival Fireworks factory near Lewes in 2006.
Some 20 other firefighters and police were injured in the blast.
Festival Fireworks’ owners – Martin and Nathan Winter – were convicted of the men’s manslaughter and jailed for seven and five years.
ESFRS could face a multi-million pound payout after the High Court judgement in July. Mr Justice Irwin had ordered the fire service to pay compensation to the victim’s families in July after considering the evidence at a two-week trial in London.
However, the fire service is now seeking permission to appeal against the ruling.
The judge had ruled there was ‘inadequate training provision’ and that few of the firemen who attended the scene had been warned about the potential volatility of the fireworks.
Chief fire officer Des Prichard said, “I have learned that our insurers have formally served notice of their intention to seek permission to appeal the judgment of Mr Justice Irwin.
“As an organisation, we are bound by the decision of our Insurers, irrespective of our personal opinions and my own personal view.