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Fire and Rescue Service: Festival Fireworks Blaze

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 7 December 2006

My right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The House will be aware of the tragic events on Sunday 3 December at the Festival Fireworks Depot, Marlie Farm, Ringmer, near Lewes, which resulted in the deaths of Geoffrey Wicker and Brian Wembridge, two members of East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, and of the injuries sustained by 12 other people. Among those injured were nine fire-fighters, a police officer and two members of the public.

Mr Wicker and Mr Wembridge were among 60 members of the fire and rescue service in attendance during the initial stages of the incident. The full events leading to the deaths and injuries are as yet unclear and an investigation by the police, Health and Safety Executive and East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is ongoing.

I fully recognise the contribution that the fire and rescue services make to our communities and the situations they face on a daily basis. I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal sadness at this tragic event. At this time, my thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of those who died, and with those who were injured. To all of them, I extend my heart-felt sympathy. Once the investigations have been completed, I will make a further Statement to the House.