Fire investigations UK

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Two firefighters dead and a flawed system laid bare

“The cause of the fire was most probably due to the ignition source being the production of a spark or sparks from unprotected welding activities and falling among adjacent combustible materials that had been dumped within the yard,” concluded a June 2009 report by Dr Peter Mansi, then manager of the fire investigation group of the London Fire Brigade.

Mansi was asked to investigate the fire by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), which ran a parallel and to some extent overlapping investigation with the Garda. Their inquiries led to unprecedented Garda raids on Wicklow County Council offices and, extraordinarily, the formal arrest and questioning under caution of senior members of the local authority’s administrative staff, including county manager Eddie Sheehy, and senior assistant chief fire officers Joanne O’Connor and Tadgh O’Shea, and former chief fire officer Jim Dunphy.

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