Inquest told firefighters not trained on new equipment

Tuesday 06 May 2014 18.34
Brian Murray and Mark O'Shaughnessy died fighting a fire in Bray almost seven years ago
Brian Murray and Mark O'Shaughnessy died fighting a fire in Bray almost seven years ago

Firefighters at Bray Fire Station were ordered to use a new appliance without training because of a belief that no training was required, an inquest has been told.

Brian Murray, 46, and Mark O'Shaughnessy, 25, died on 26 September 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, 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," Mr O'Shea said.

Answering questions put to him by counsel for the Murray family, William Hamilton BL, Mr O'Shea said the appliance, equipped with the CAFS system, was sent out for use as soon as it arrived at the station.

"I don't see any problem sending out the appliance because it is essentially the same as the previous one," he said.

As officer in charge of procurement and equipment at Wicklow Fire Service, Mr Hamilton asked if Mr O'Shea had read a system manual and CD delivered with the new appliance.

Mr O'Shea replied that he had not.

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

"I didn't. There was research done by the Department of Environment. 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 a blaze 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 following the tragic incident.

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 in relation to the CAFS system 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."

Asked if firefighters received adequate training in relation to the introduction of CAFS, Ms O'Connor said: "Given what I was told, it seemed adequate at the time."