Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

October 07, 2007 19:01 ET

Container "bombs" warning as firework ship set to dock in Felixstowe

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Oct. 7, 2007) -

Fire crews are calling for urgent action over the storage and transportation of fireworks as a ship laden with them was set to dock at Felixstowe on Monday 8 October. The Fire Brigades Union warns fireworks will be moved across the UK in the same ISO storage containers at the centre of the Marlie Farm explosion which killed two firefighters on 5 December last year.

The union warns that emergency services and the public are being put in needless danger because of confused regulation, lack of monitoring and poor labelling of imported fireworks. It accuses the Government and the Health and Safety Executive of being slow in their reaction to the dangers uncovered at other incidents during the Marlie Farm investigations.

It warns that four major fireworks incidents in the UK and similar incidents in six other countries found: The labelling on imported fireworks is unreliable; regulation is hampered by too many agencies being involved with little co-operation between them; serious concerns that ISO containers are inappropriate for the storage or transportation of fireworks; poor information and guidance for emergency services seriously hampered their ability to prepare and successfully execute their response.

FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: "East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service lost Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker at Marlie Farm on 5 December last year. Another nine firefighters, a police officer and two members of the public were injured in the explosion.

"In fires ISO containers packed with fireworks can cause the same devastation as some military bombs and artillery shells. Despite the dangers already identified there has been no action from Government, the Health and Safety Executive or the other regulatory agencies.

"There is now a container ship set to dock at Felixstowe packed with fireworks in ISO containers. It will soon be unloaded and the containers moved by road across the UK. The emergency services don't know the routes involved, who is transporting them or the final destination.

"Hundreds of containers holding fireworks - potential bombs when in fires - are going to be moved across the UK in the coming weeks. We need immediate action to identify details of every ISO container loaded with fireworks, its journey, the quantity of fireworks, how the containers are marked and their final destination so emergency services can pre-plan their course of action.

"We also have major concerns if these shipments travel through built up areas or are stored in built up areas. We need much better co-operation between Customs, HSE, Trading Standards, fire service and police to achieve an acceptable level of risk.

"At present there is no effective regulation of fireworks standards, labelling, transportation or storage. Government and its agencies have done nothing to properly address what we have already learned about firework linked explosions at incidents in the UK and other countries.

"Emergency services and the public are being put needlessly at risk by this inaction. It is unacceptable and only underlines the need for an independent public inquiry into the explosion at Marlie Farm".

Contact Information

  • Local/regional media contact:
    Jim Parrott
    07702 394440
    National media contact:
    Duncan Milligan
    07736 818100