14 Dec 2009

Company created 'bomb' that killed firefighter

11:06 pm on 14 December 2009

A refrigeration company has been accused of creating a bomb at the Icepak coolstore that killed one firefighter and seriously injured seven others near Hamilton last year.

The company, Mobile Refrigeration Specialists, was in Hamilton District Court for sentencing on Monday over its role in the fire and explosion at the Icepak coolstore near Hamilton last April.

Icepak, which owns the coolstore, Mobile Refrigeration Specialists, which is contracted to Icepak, and Icepack director Wayne Grattan all pleaded guilty to charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

The Department of Labour told the court the Fire Service did not know the coolstore was using a highly explosive propane gas.

It says the firefighters would have approached the coolstore differently if they had known the gas was present.

The court also heard from the lawyer appointed to look after the interests of the victims in relation to possible compensation and reparation.

The seven injured firefighters were in court for the sentencing.

In its closing submission, the Department of Labour said the extent of breaches committed by Mobile Refrigeration Specialists was enormous, and it was highly foreseeable that the complex would explode at some stage.

It says the company deliberately and blatantly ignored warning signs of potential problems with highly inflammable gas in the plant and it was never able to meet safety requirements.

The sentencing was adjourned and will resume on Tuesday morning.