Firefighters have welcomed the news that East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has dropped its appeal against liability for the deaths of Geoff Wicker and Brian Wembridge at a firework factory on Marlie Farm in 2006.
The High Court ruled back in 2013 that East Sussex FRS was guilty of negligence having failed its employees on a number of occasions.
Reacting to the news Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This is welcome news for the families of Geoff and Brian but it is a scandal it has taken this long for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to admit its guilt and to honour the ruling of the court. Those responsible for these outrageous decisions should hang their heads in shame for prolonging this painful process.
“Geoff and Brian died in the line of duty serving the public. We have a duty to make sure their families are looked after and that justice is done.
“The FBU have campaigned tirelessly and this approach has now paid off.
“I know all firefighters hope lessons will be learnt from this tragedy so this doesn’t happen again in the future.
“Our thoughts are now with the families of Geoff and Brian and the other injured firefighters.”
In the original court case East Sussex FRS were found guilty of a number of failings contributing to the deaths of Geoff and Brian including a failure to train staff about the danger of fireworks stored in bulk, a failure to pre-plan as well as a communications breakdown resulting in a flawed evacuation once the danger had become clear.
The news comes after the FBU ran a campaign urging the fire service to drop its appeal and accept liability.
East Sussex FRS will now pay compensation to the families of those killed and to the firefighters injured but they continue to dispute liability for injuries caused to police officers on the day.
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