Marlie Farm deaths High Court ruling: â€˜common sense and justice prevailâ€™ say firefighters
Todayâ€™s High Court judgement on the deaths of two firefighters in the 2006 Marlie Farm fireworks blaze found that East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were responsible for the health and safety of their employees and must pay compensation to the bereaved families.
Commenting, Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, said:
â€œCommon sense and justice have prevailed today, and the judgeâ€™s ruling reflects the systemic and cultural failure of those responsible for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
â€œAlthough the ruling cannot undoÂ Geoff or Brianâ€™s tragic deaths, firefighters can be relieved that their employers cannot merely renounce their duty of care as had been argued.
â€œThe events at Marlie Farm were a tragedy, with two lives needlessly lostÂ even though firefighters did a fantastic job, and the FBU was proud to support them during the incident and investigation.
â€œThe FBU have only received the judgment today and will need to reflect on it carefully, including checking that current arrangements in East Sussex reflect the ruling.
â€œBut the failings of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service raised by the FBU were echoed in the criminal trial of the factoryâ€™s owners, and itâ€™s clear that this case should not have been fought.
â€œWe therefore appeal to East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to avoid prolonging the agony of bereaved families as well as injured firefighters and police officersÂ by accepting this judgment and paying the appropriate compensation as soon as possible.â€
The ruling echoed concerns raised by the FBU in the aftermath of the tragedy, including failure to:
The FBU also said that issues raised during the case reflected wider concerns that lessons from previous firefighter deaths are not being learned within the fire and rescue service, an issue they have recently raised with ministers.
Gerard Stilliard of Thompsons Solicitors said: â€œIt is now nearly 7 years since this tragic event.
â€œThe judgment is absolutely clear on the failures which sadly occurred that day.
â€œIt is essential that East Sussex FRS now accepts its share of legal responsibility for the deaths and injuries and exhibits some of the dignity shown by its own employees and the bereaved throughout this lengthy process.â€