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    "If you've been injured through no fault of your own you could be entitled to compensation. If you're unsure if you could claim, I recommend you call Accident Advice Helpline."

    Esther Rantzen

    Health and Safety News

    Firework factory families set for payment

    By David Brown on December 31, 2014

    A compensation payout is to be awarded to the families of two firefighters who tragically died after an explosion at a firework factory in 2006.

    Geoff Wicker, 49, and Brian Wembridge, 63, were killed in the incident at Marlie Farm in Shortgate, near Lewes in East Sussex eight years ago – which also left scores of other rescue workers hurt.

    The families of the two men were adjudged to be entitled to damages, according to Mr Justice Irwin at the High Court in London back in July 2013.

    East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s insurer appealed the judgement, although this appeal has now been dropped.


    The decision to appeal was branded “scandalous” by Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack, who said those responsible for it should “hang their heads in shame” for prolonging the pain of the victims’ families.

    He said that the FBU has a “duty” to make sure Mr Wicker and Mr Wembridge’s families’ welfare is taken care of, after the men died while protecting the public.

    East Sussex Fire Authority chairman Phil Howson said the appeal decision had been made by its insurers, a decision the body was bound by.

    He said he hoped the settlement of claims could be put through by the insurers and that the matter can now be concluded.

    ‘Grossly negligent’

    Father-and-son Martin and Nathan Winter, who ran the fireworks company involved, were convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence after a trial at Lewes Crown Court in late 2009.

    It was established that they had been grossly negligent by using a metal container that was unlicensed and liable to explode if a fire started.

    However, as the Winters’ insurance was invalidated by fireworks being stored illegally, victims of the incident had to look elsewhere for compensation. Mr Justice Irwin also ruled that the fire service had been negligent.

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