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East Sussex Fire and Rescue set to appeal Marlie Farm High Court ruling
Fire bosses are set to “prolong the pain” of the families of two dead firemen by trying to overturn a damning court ruling, according to a furious union.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service faces a multimillion pound payout after a High Court judge ruled in July that the deaths of Brian Wembridge |and Geoff Wicker were preventable.
The two veteran firefighters died in a massive explosion at Marlie Farm near Lewes in 2006.
IIn a critical closing statement, Mr Justice Irwin ordered the fire service to pay compensation to the victim’s families.
But lawyers acting for the fire service are now seeking permission to appeal the ruling in the hope it can be overturned.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said the case had been already been properly heard, claiming “the result is not in doubt”.
He said: “An appeal would prolong the pain for injured firefighters and the families of the bereaved.”
At the close of the original ten-day High Court hearing, the judge ruled there was “inadequate training provision”, and that very few of the 50 firemen scrambled to Marlie Farm were warned fireworks could be so volatile.
But East Sussex chief fire |officer Des Prichard claimed the decision to appeal the ruling was made by out-of-pocket |insurers, not by the fire service itself.
He said: “As an organisation, we are bound by the decision of our insurers, irrespective of our personal opinions and my own personal view.
“I have been humbled by the courage and dignity of the Wembridge and Wicker families over what is now almost seven years as they seek to understand how their loved ones lost their lives.
“I can understand and fully accept why they see it as crucial that this case be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible, so that they can move on.”
Mr Prichard also revealed the bereaved families have been invited to meet with the insurers to try and hammer out a compromise before any appeal is heard.
He said: “It is my utmost and sincere hope that the offer to attend this meeting will be accepted by all parties and that the meeting will be able to swiftly bring this case to a conclusion.”
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