There is anger tonight from relatives of four firefighters who were killed in a warehouse fire five years ago. They're unhappy with a judge's comments that failings by Warwickshire fire service did not cause the deaths.
The judge fined Warwickshire County Council £30,000 for health and safety breaches. But family members say as far as they're concerned, the fire service has "blood on its hands" and has escaped more severe punishment.
Mr Justice MacDuff at Stafford Crown Court has said:
The Defendant [Warwickshire County Council] has reformed its risk management systems and training and equipment I am entirely satisfied that there has been full rectification of these matters.
The nearest water supplies were unknown to those who attended the Atherstone fire.
– Mr Justice MacDuff
This dreadful accident was caused by a series of mishaps and failures occurring together some being more potent than others.
Warwickshire County Council is to be sentenced for health and safety breaches linked to a warehouse fire which claimed the lives of four firefighters.
The local authority pleaded guilty in January this year to a charge brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act following an inquiry into the fire in Atherstone-on-Stour in 2007.
The Judge sitting at Stafford Crown Court has issued his opening remarks, saying; "The relatives have taken a close interest in this case I have read the impact statement. I understand the anguish at the loss of men who had their lives ahead of them.
"Men who went fearlessly into the fire in what was considered to be a routine fire at the time I have the most enormous sympathy. I know family members will understand my task.
"It is unusual for a judge to sentence a corporate body. There is no defendant to look in the eye."
Atherstone-on-Stour Judge has said that the decision to enter the burning warehouse was the correct one, saying he, "has reached the conclusion that offensive firefighting was the correct decision."
The Honourable Mr Justice MacDuff at Stafford Crown Court has said:
It is unfortunate that justice in this case has been so delayed.
The Defendant pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
This was a fire within a building. What was reported was a single pallet fire. The first obvious step was to try and put the fire out provided it could be safely done.
Warwickshire County Council has been fined £30,000 for health and safety breaches at the Atherstone fire.
Warwickshire County Council is due to be sentenced later over the deaths of four firefighters.
The men died in a fire at a warehouse in Atherstone on Stour in 2007.
The council has pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety legislation.
Earlier this year three senior fire officers were cleared of manslaughter by gross negligence.
A court has heard how Warwickshire County Council failed in three areas to protect 4-firemen who were killed in a blaze in Atherstone on Stour in 2007.
Today Stafford Crown Court heard that the council failed in areas of training, inspection of buildings and getting operational information to firefighters.
The council has already pleaded guilty to breaching some health and safety legislation. Earlier this year three senior fire officers who were in charge of the operation were cleared of manslaughter by gross negligence. The trial continues.