A father and son have been jailed for manslaughter following an explosion at a fireworks factory in which two fire-fighters lost their lives. Alpha Fireworks owner Martin Winter, 52, was jailed for seven years, and his 25-year-old son, Nathan Winter, sentenced to five years for the deaths of retained fire-fighter Geoff Wicker, 49, and support officer Brian Wembridge, 63.
The incident took place at Marlie Farm in Shortgate, East Sussex on 3 December 2006. Nathan Winter was preparing a fireworks display for a Christmas lights ceremony in Eastbourne and was working outside one of the buildings on the farm when one of the fireworks caught fire. This caused a number of other fireworks to explode, and the fire spread through buildings on the site.
Firefi-ghters arrived at the scene, including Mr Wembridge who was filming the blaze for training purposes, and Mr Wicker, who was erecting a standing fire hose to spray water on the flames. The fire reached a metal container illegally packed with fireworks, causing a huge explosion that killed both men and injured 20 others. The metal container was being used to house fireworks before being shipped the Middle East, and was not authorised by the company’s licence to store fireworks. This licence was subsequently revoked by the HSE following its investigation into the incident.
HSE chief inspector of explosives, Neil Morton, commented: “This case is a stark reminder of the terrible consequences of not following the correct procedures when handling hazardous material. If Alpha Fireworks had handled and stored the fireworks correctly, the fire and subsequent explosion would not have happened.”
Full story at FSE online, where this text has been adapted from.