Out-of-control fire labelled major emergency
A company has been fined due to a fire at its premises in Middlesbrough, which developed into a major incident.
The fire took place at the premises of Vertellus Specialties UK Ltd. In May 2014. Large quantities of hazardous substances were involved in the incident, which included the reducing agent Vitride. Due to the hazardous substances involved, it was declared a major incident by the police. The Vitride was contained in drums, and each one had burst, causing a fireball.
Although no one was injured during the incident, the police took precautions and declared a major emergency, ensuring that the road was closed for a number of hours. An investigation was carried out by Cleveland Fire Brigade and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found that the equipment had not been maintained correctly by Vertellus. The firm had also failed to make sure that the equipment could control temperature, or to prevent ignition if a substance was released in an out-of-control manner.
The firm has pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999. A fine of £135,000 has been levied against the company, and costs of £37,653.12 are to be paid by the firm. Stephen Britton, the inspector for HSE, said that it was very lucky no one had been injured in the fire.
All companies dealing with hazardous substances should have measures in place to prevent and deal with any incidents like this, including training in the use of PPE and other equipment.