Bray Fire Station ‘badly run’ for years, inquest told

Hearing into deaths of firemen Brian Murray (46) and Mark O’Shaughnessy (26) resumes

Firemen at the scene of a fatal fire on Lower Dargle Road in Bray on September 26th, 2007. The inquest into the deaths of firemen Brian Murray (46) and Mark O’Shaughnessy (26) has resumed. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Firemen at the scene of a fatal fire on Lower Dargle Road in Bray on September 26th, 2007. The inquest into the deaths of firemen Brian Murray (46) and Mark O’Shaughnessy (26) has resumed. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 14:10

The inquest into the deaths of two firemen in Bray reopened in Dublin today.

Brian Murray (46) and Mark O’Shaughnessy (26) died on September 26th, 2007, while fighting a blaze at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas off the Dargle Road.

The inquest into the deaths was adjourned in 2010 pending criminal proceedings. Wicklow County Council was fined €335,000 for criminal health and safety violations last month.

Gareth Nolan, whose aunt owned the factory involved in the fire, said he and a welder, Aidan O’Neill, attended the factory on the morning of the fire. They arrived at 10am.

There was no power in the factory so they plugged an extension lead into a neighbour’s house. They welded the main door of the factory shut including carrying out one piece of welding on “one catch” on the inside of the door.

There had been illegal dumping in the factory and it contained “beds, chairs, cookers, washing machines and old bikes” as well as household waste, Mr Nolan said. It was about four or five feet high. He’d noticed it the week before. He said he and Mr O’Neill checked to make sure the factory was secure before they left.

“It was ok before we left,” he said.

He got a call from his aunt at 11.43am to tell him the factory was on fire.

Asked by William Hamilton BL, for the Murray family, if he had a concern regarding the fire risk of the rubbish, he said he did not. He also said he was positive his aunt had not asked him to remove the rubbish contained in the factory as well as welding the door.

He also said while the inside of the door was being welded, the rubbish was four or five feet from it. He conceded that Mr O’Neill had not used a metal sheet to prevent sparks created by the welding from flying to the debris.

Also giving evidence, Eamon O’Shaughnessy, brother of Mark, confirmed he identified his late brother Mark at St Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown .

In his deposition read out this morning, he also said he saw a note on the coffee table at his brother’s home where he lived with his mother on the day before he died. The next time he saw it, he said, was in his brother’s locker at Bray Fire Station after his death.

He said he knew from talking to his brother that “Bray Fire Station was run badly for many years”. The note outlined the problems as he saw them, Mr O’Shaughnessy’s deposition said, and they “made Mark’s job difficult”.

They also made it more hazardous. He confirmed the note had been passed on to gardaí.

Luan O’Braonain SC, for Wicklow County Counsel interrupted the deposition, and raised concerns that he had not seen a copy of it. Dr Farrell agreed further details from it would be discussed later in the inquest.

Brian Murray, son of the deceased and one of 15 children, also attested to the formal identification of his father Brian Murray.

The case continues.