Firemen ‘not trained’ in use of blaze gear
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.