Lewes: Fire Service Appeal Dismissed

4 October 2013, 07:14 | Updated: 4 October 2013, 10:36

East Sussex Fire and Rescue has had an appeal over the deaths of two firefighters thrown out.

Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker died in an explosion at Marlie Farm near Lewes in 2006 - the owners, a father and son, were jailed after being convicted of their manslaughter.

Back in July a High Court judge said their deaths were preventable and the service should pay compensation.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, said:

“It’s time for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to give the families of these fallen firefighters the peace and justice the have awaited for seven years. The fire and rescue service should abandon their appeal and pay the appropriate compensation immediately.

“It’s a relief but no surprise that the courts have dismissed their meritless appeal on every ground of application, and shocking that they will now prolong the families’ agony by appealing again.

“We should never forget that two lives were needlessly lost at Marlie Farm as a result of a systemic and cultural failure of those responsible for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

“The FBU has been proud to support this case on behalf of firefighters throughout this long process and will continue to fight alongside them as long as it takes to achieve justice.”

East Sussex Fire and Rescue say they recognise it is a difficult time for all involved and have issued the follwoing statement:

"We have previously expressed our desire to see the legal action surrounding the issue of compensation resolved as soon as possible. We were hopeful that a meeting involving all parties would take place in order to achieve this.
The decision to appeal against July’s High Court ruling was made by our insurers and we are bound by that decision.
At the time of the incident, our Chief Fire Officer Des Prichard pledged to find out what went wrong and take action. We have carried out our own investigation and brought in changes to the way we deal with these sorts of fires."