Fire chiefs to appeal decision on Marlie Farm

Marlie Farm fire
Marlie Farm fire

The fire service is set to appeal against a judge’s decision that the deaths of two firemen in the Marlie Farm explosion were preventable.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) could face a multi-million pound payout after the High Court judgement in July.

Fire service cameraman Brian Wembridge, who was based in Eastbourne, and firefighter Geoff Wicker died in a huge explosion at the fireworks factory, near Lewes, in 2006.

Festival Fireworks’ owners – Martin and Nathan Winter – were convicted of the men’s manslaughter and jailed for seven and five years.

Mr Justice Irwin had ordered the fire service to pay compensation to the victim’s families in July after considering the evidence at a two-week trial in London.

However, the fire service is now seeking permission to appeal against the ruling.

The judge had ruled there was ‘inadequate training provision’ and that few of the firemen who attended the scene had been warned about the potential volatility of the fireworks.

Chief fire officer Des Prichard said, “I have learned that our insurers have formally served notice of their intention to seek permission to appeal the judgment of Mr Justice Irwin.

“As an organisation, we are bound by the decision of our Insurers, irrespective of our personal opinions and my own personal view.

“For my part I shall never forget that Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker, two dedicated employees of ESFRS lost their lives on that day and a number of my colleagues including police officers, were injured.”