'Narrative verdicts' in Bray fire inquest

Friday 09 May 2014 22.05
Experts disagreed on what led to an acceleration that caused the deaths of two firefighters
Experts disagreed on what led to an acceleration that caused the deaths of two firefighters

The jury in the inquest into the deaths of two Bray firefighters has returned narrative verdicts.

Brian Murray, a 46-year-old father of 15, and Mark O'Shaughnessy, 26, died while fighting a blaze in a derelict factory in Bray on 26 September 2007.

The jurors said the risk factors in the circumstances that lead to their deaths included failure to maintain proper communications in Bray and Greystones fire stations and no appropriate training was given to use a new fire appliance.

The jury also said it noted a shortage of qualified drivers on the day.

Earlier, coroner Brian Farrell said the only consolation for the families is that while it cannot be said that death was instantaneous, unconsciousness was.

The coroner said the experts who gave evidence during the inquest had all agreed that the fire accelerated at 11.08am creating a fireball that caused the men's deaths.

However, the experts disagreed on what caused that acceleration.

Mr Farrell said it will never be known why the two men went further into the building that day.

He said one can only speculate, saying perhaps they thought someone was inside because there was welding there or, he said, it may have been on their minds that no support was on the way.

He said the men could also have been disoriented.

The jurors heard that there were a number of operational issues at Bray Fire Station at the time.

The equipment was described as antiquated and there was only one PDA, a written predetermined response by the service.

The court heard that the first draft of a safety statement was completed the day before the men died.

The jurors had previously been told that Wicklow County Council pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety in the Circuit Criminal Court.

These included failure to have adequate plans in place to get back-up assistance to firefighters, failure to provide adequate training in CAFS (Compressed Air Foam System) and failure to update their safety statement.

Today, Luán Ó Braonáin SC, who was representing the council, said the fact that there were health and safety failures did not mean that the failures resulted in the deaths of the men.