Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

November 13, 2009 11:40 ET

Buncefield Guilty Plea 'Significant' to Hertfordshire Firefighters

HERTFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Nov. 13, 2009) - Total UK has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the explosion at the Buncefield oil depot in Hertfordshire in 2005. The explosion rocked Hertfordshire in December 2005 causing widespread damage and leaving 43 people injured.

The first firefighters on the scene, faced with the largest European peace time fire, immediately searched the area for casualties and set about bringing the blaze under control – a task that took several weeks to complete.

More than 1000 firefighters attended the blaze from 33 fire and rescue services from across the country, working together as one team in extremely arduous and hazardous conditions to put the fire out and limit the effects on the environment.

Herts FBU Secretary Tony Smith said "It was a miracle that no one was killed by the blast and subsequent fire and we believe it is significant today that one of the parties involved has pleaded guilty to the charges".

Four other companies, who are being prosecuted, pleaded not guilty to similar charges and a trial date was provisionally fixed for 14 April 2010 at St Albans Crown Court.

Mr Smith said 'Local firefighters are watching these cases closely because they surround what we call a 'worst case scenario incident'. Fire fighters face great risk attending incidents like the one at Buncefield and at the same time our funding is constantly cut. How can we guarantee that we will be so successful in dealing with these incidents in the future when there will be less firefighters with less training, equipment and support?"

It has been announced today that the level of terrorist threat at the London Olympics is expected to be severe, the greatest security challenge the UK has faced since the Second World War, with sites in Hertfordshire already earmarked for use over a period of several months before and during the games.

Hertfordshire Branch of the Fire Brigades Union.

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