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Fire safety officers visited Norwich factory a month before two workers were killed in explosion

PUBLISHED: 13:53 11 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:03 11 July 2017

29-year-old Daniel Timbers (left) and 56-year-old Barry Joy (right). Picture: Norfolk Police

29-year-old Daniel Timbers (left) and 56-year-old Barry Joy (right). Picture: Norfolk Police

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Fire safety officers who visited a factory a month before two industrial workers were killed in a "flash over explosion" found conditions "reasonable", an inquest heard.

Floral tributes to Daniel Timbers and Barry Joy at the Harford Attachments factory on Spar Road, Norwich, four days after their deaths.  Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Floral tributes to Daniel Timbers and Barry Joy at the Harford Attachments factory on Spar Road, Norwich, four days after their deaths. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Production operative Daniel Timbers, 28, was helping paint sprayer Barry Joy, 56, at the time of a blast and “fierce fire” in the paint spray booth they were working in at Harford Attachments on Spar Road, Norfolk Coroner’s Court was told.

The factory had recently moved its operation from Burton Road, and installed a new electrostatic paint system.

Stefan Rider, operational support officer for Norfolk Fire and Rescue at the time, visited Harford Attachments on June 15, 2015 after a recommendation from a fire safety adviser.

Due to the amount of compressed gas at the factory, he was tasked with assessing risks to firefighters in the event of an incident.

Emergency services and staff at Spar Road, Norwich after the reported explosion and fire believed to be at the Harford premises.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Emergency services and staff at Spar Road, Norwich after the reported explosion and fire believed to be at the Harford premises. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

He spoke with Chris Brown, who was introduced to him as the health and safety manager at Harford, and told him 205 litres of solvents were kept on site for use in the spray booth.

Normal practice was to decant the amount needed for the day and return it to an external garage at night.

Mr Rider said because the factory kept less than 500 litres of solvents on site, it did not pose a “significant risk” to firefighters but would be mentioned in his report so an incident commander would be aware in the event of a fire.

He said Mr Brown told him the spray booth was “a slightly newer addition” to the factory and he was “still becoming familiar with how it operated”.

He also told the hearing that on the day of the fire on July 13, he was on duty and had to print off a hard copy of the information he had gathered.

“The information should have been available to the crews but the mobile data system was down,” he said.

The court also heard from managing director of Burwell Maintenance Ltd Ray Gollop, who was contracted to replace the paint shop burners and change the system from natural gas to LPG in February 2015.

He told the inquest they had only certified one out of three burners for the spray booth, and work to refit pipe work was cancelled half way through by Steve Kidd, managing director of Harford.

“He said he had other costs from moving the factory and he would come back to it later in the year,” said Mr Gollop.

The inquest continues.

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