Fire­men ‘not trained’ in use of blaze gear

Bray People - - Bray People - Mary FOG­A­RTY

FIRE­MEN Mark O’Shaugh­nessy and Brian Mur­ray, who died in the Ade­laide Vil­las tragedy, were not trained in the use of the equip­ment they were us­ing on the day of a blaze, early re­ports have in­di­cated.

It’s said likely that a ‘flash-over’ or sud­den ex­plo­sion of trapped gas, smoke and vapours occurred in the burn­ing build­ing that morn­ing, the sud­den surge of heat - pos­si­bly as high as 1,000C - over­com­ing the two fire­fight­ers.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have re­port­edly dis­cov­ered that the team was us­ing a com­pressed air foam sys­tem (CAFS), which a Dublin­based fire­man said would not have been ap­pro­pri­ate for a ‘hot’-house fire.

In a flash-over, sim­i­lar to a back­draft (where the sud­den ad­di­tion of oxy­gen to fire can cause an ex­plo­sion), in­tense heat causes par­ti­cles of gas in the en­closed area to ig­nite seem­ingly out of nowhere.

The phe­nom­e­non of el­e­ments of fire ap­pear­ing in the mid­dle of smoke is is known as ‘danc­ing angels’.

‘For com­part­ment fires CAFS has no cool­ing prop­er­ties. It can be sent in through the win­dow at the fire to knock it out fast, but as for go­ing in to hot-house fires I wouldn’t even think about it,’ said a fire­fighter work­ing in Dublin.

‘There is a par­tic­u­lar course for the use of the sys­tem within an en­closed area,’ said an­other source. ‘This was not done for Bray.’ A mem­ber of the fire ser­vice in Bray has said that no train­ing on CAFS was ever de­liv­ered at the Bray sta­tion.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the dou­ble tragedy of Septem­ber 2007 has es­tab­lished that the two men were over­come by an in­tense surge of heat, said to be over 1,000C, which ren­dered them un­con­scious.

The pre­cise cause of the fire­fight­ers’ deaths has still not been of­fi­cially con­firmed by Gar­dai for op­er­a­tional rea­sons.

Sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tions are be­ing car­ried out by the Health and Safety Au­thori- ty (HSA) and Wick­low County Coun­cil to es­tab­lish whether cer­tain per­son­nel at Wick­low fire ser­vice should be pros­e­cuted for reck­less en­dan­ger­ment.

The Garda in­quiry has al­ready con­cluded that fire­fight­ers at Bray sta­tion were not given ac­cess to proper equip­ment, train­ing and re­sources. The HSA is ex­pected to re­port that Wick­low fire ser­vice broke a num­ber of health and safety reg­u­la­tions.

Part of the garda in­ves­ti­ga­tion is fo­cus­ing on a hose used by the two men which burst dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

‘Noth­ing is 100 per cent fire proof,’ said a source. ‘There was in­tense heat in that build­ing which could have caused the dam­age.’

Two ar­rests have been made within the last two months in con­nec­tion with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, with one more per­son ex­pected to be ar­rested be­fore its con­clu­sion. The two peo­ple quizzed on sus­pi­cion of reck­less en­dan­ger­ment were re­leased without charge.

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