‘Ultimate price paid by brave firefighters’

Two firefighters who died fighting a blaze in Bray, Co Wicklow, in 2007 paid the "ultimate price for their courage and devotion to duty".

‘Ultimate price paid by brave firefighters’

Dublin Coroner Brian O’Farrell paid tribute to Brian Murray, aged 46, and Mark O’Shaughnessy, aged 26, at the conclusion of one of the longest inquests in the history of the State.

The firefighters died fighting a blaze at a disused factory at Adelaide Villas in Bray on September 26, 2007. Family members said the positions of senior management at Wicklow Fire Service are “untenable” due to Wicklow County Council’s guilty plea in the Central Criminal Court to serious health and safety violations.

Speaking at the conclusion of the 17-day inquest, Hazel O’Brien, girlfriend of Mr O’Shaughnessy, said Tadhg O’Shea and Joanne O’Connor remain in management positions within Wicklow Fire Service.

“We maintain that their positions are entirely untenable, as is that of the county manager, Eddie Sheehy, who has ultimate responsibility for the fire service under legislation,” said Ms O’Brien.

Last October, Wicklow County Council was fined €355,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety violations over the incident.

The jury heard risk factors in relation to their deaths, including the failure to maintain vital communications systems in the station watchrooms at Bray and Greystones, the absence of specific instructions for firefighters in emergency situations, inappropriate training in the use of compressed air foam systems (CAFS), and a shortage of drivers on the day in question.

The jury noted a complete absence of training in CAFS in the case of Mr O’Shaughnessy.

The jury outlined recommendations including a review of theory and practice in the use of CAFS and noted the absence of an internal inquiry by the local authority following the fatal fire.

Wicklow County Council outlined changes to operating procedures implemented since 2007. It said a one-day CAFS training course is provided for firefighters.

The council described the pair as “dedicated and brave firefighters who tragically lost their lives in the incident whilst serving their community”.

On behalf of Mr Murray’s family, Darren Murray welcomed the jury’s verdict. “It’s been a difficult journey. The jury have made their recommendations so it’s for the relevant authorities to act on them now,” he said.

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