Incident directory

1994 - Trevenna Farm

01/09/1994

Country:

UK

  • HAZMAT

Severity:

Fatal

Description

Date of event

Thursday 1st September 1994.

Time of event

Approximately 15:00. (INITIAL CALL)

Name of premises

Trevenna Farm.

Location

St. Neot, Bodmin, Cornwall.

Service area

Cornwall Fire Brigade (now Cornwall Fire, Rescue, Community Safety Service (CFRCSS)).

Nature of incident

Fire and HAZMAT exposure.

Property type

Outbuilding approximately 8m x 4m.

Premises use

Store and/or workshop

Construction type and materials

Traditional stone walls with timber roof trusses and corrugated ‘tin’ roof.

Occupancy

Farm owner and employees.

Fire source and location of fire

Deliberate involving ignition of hay by children playing with matches.

Synopsis

Brief Synopsis

Cornwall Fire Brigade were called to a barn fire at approximately 15:00 on the 1st September 1994. 2 pumping appliances were initially sent with 10 firefighters in total (crews of 4 and 6). Initial information on the turnout sheet included the presence of ‘possible chemicals involved’. On arrival the Sub Officer (SubO) in charge was met by the farmer. The SubO asked direct questions in relation to the chemicals involved. On attendance the fire was described as ‘quite lazy’ and it was observed that the roof had collapsed causing a smothering effect (CFRCSS, 2017).

2 breathing apparatus (BA) wearers were committed with a high pressure hose reel jet to extinguish the fire which involved removing some of the collapsed corrugated roof sheets. The fire was described as ‘fully ventilated’ and ‘did not take long to extinguish’. The 2 BA wearers, a probationary firefighter (PFf) and a leading firefighter (Lf) wore the BA sets for approximately 30 minutes and then in the absence of the SubO and supervisory officer, who were focused on speaking with the youths who had started the fire, removed BA deeming that the fire was out and that it, (BA) wasn’t required any further (CFRCSS, 2017).

There was still some heat left within the remnants of the fire and some hotspots that required extinguishing. Turning over and damping down was conducted by the Lf and PFf who had worn BA with 2 other Ff’s assisting. During the course of this action the Lf discovered 2 plastic containers (1 x 5 litre and 1 x 25 litre) that had been in a kitchen cupboard base unit within the store/workshop. The containers had melted down to approximately 6 inches high and had liquid within them. The liquid in the 5 litre container was later identified as an organophosphate commonly used as sheep dip. What was found to be 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA), a selective herbicide, was also discovered within the fire debris within the other 25 litre container (CFRCSS, 2017).

The Lf subsequently died on the Saturday approximately 48 hours after the incident due to delayed lung damage. Another leading firefighter, suffered ‘chest conditions’ and spent approximately a week in hospital as a result, 4 days after the incident, with a respiratory condition. The BA partner (PFf) of the Lf who was fatally injured was checked by a Doctor with no further medical action taken (CFRCSS, 2017).

MCPA and other chlorinated chemicals can under certain heat related conditions decompose to produce phosgene.

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Photo 1

Courtesy of Cornwall Fire, Rescue, Community Safety Service (CFRCSS).

 Photo 2

Courtesy of Cornwall Fire, Rescue, Community Safety Service (CFRCSS).

Photo 3

Remains of 25 litre container, containing MCPA. Courtesy of Cornwall Fire, Rescue, Community Safety Service (CFRCSS).

 Photo 4

Remains of 5 litre container, containing Organophosphate. Courtesy of Cornwall Fire, Rescue, Community Safety Service (CFRCSS).

Photo 5

Firefighters in chemical protection suits sometime after the fire investigating the container contents.  Courtesy of Cornwall Fire, Rescue, Community Safety Service (CFRCSS).

Main findings, key lessons & areas for learning

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Fire & Rescue Service summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons & recommendations

  • Key outcome identified that Breathing Apparatus should have been worn during the final stages of turning over when there was still some heat and fire gases still present.
  • The incident should have been declared a Hazmat incident and not considered to be just a fire incident.

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

FBU summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons & recommendations

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Other report summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons &recommendations

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

IFE Commentary & lessons if applicable

None produced at this time.

Known available source documents

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

FRS Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

FBU Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Incident Report/s and/or improvement notices

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Cornwall Constabulary Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

South West Ambulance Service Incident Report

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Building Research Establishment (BRE) Reports/investigations/research

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.  

Coroner’s report/s and/or regulation 28 notices

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Other information sources

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Service learning material

Hewitt, M & Cornwall Fire, Rescue, Community Safety Service (CFRCSS). (2017). HAZMAT Case study, ‘barn fire’ Trevenna Farm, St. Neot, Liskeard Thursday 1st September 1994. [PowerPoint]. Available here. Courtesy of CFRCSS.

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Videos available

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

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