Lewes: High Court Ruling Fireworks Death

A judge said families of fireman Geoff Wicker and fire service video technician Brian Wembridge were entitled to damages from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

Both men died when fireworks stored in a steel shipping container exploded at a farm near Lewes, East Sussex, in December 2006.

Fire service bosses had denied liability.

Mr Justice Irwin ruled in favour of families after analysing evidence at a trial in London earlier this year.

He said damages figures would be need to be assessed.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it would ``carefully review'' the compensation ruling.

``The judge listened carefully for two weeks to the evidence but did say that this was a very complex matter and he would take some considerable time to make his judgment,'' said chief fire officer Des Prichard.

``It is only right that we give due consideration to the careful thoughts of the judge and now look at that document in detail before we make a further response.

Mr Justice Irwin said firefighters and police injured in the explosion at Marlie Farm were also entitled to damages.

The Fire Brigades Union said it had acted for the family of Mr Wembridge and eight other firefighters who were hurt.

``Common sense and justice have prevailed,'' said union general secretary Matt Wrack today.

``Although the ruling cannot undo Geoff or Brian's tragic deaths, firefighters can be relieved that their employers cannot merely renounce their duty of care as had been argued.

``The events at Marlie Farm were a tragedy, with two lives needlessly lost even though firefighters did a fantastic job, and the FBU was proud to support them during the incident and investigation.''

Prior to the trial, which started in February, Mr Wrack had said: ``Six years is too long for the relatives of the dead firefighters.''