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May 15, 2014

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£173,000 in fines and costs for Kemble Air Services following fire chief’s death

An airport has been fined over the death of its fire chief, who was killed when he was struck by a 5ft high, 10-stone high-pressure gas cylinder, which unexpectedly discharged. 
 
Steve Mills, 45, was working at Cotswold Airport, near Cirencester, when he died in April 2011.
 
The operator of the airport, Kemble Air Services Ltd, who had been found guilty of breaching health and safety regulations at an earlier hearing, was sentenced in court on Tuesday 13 May.
 
Mr Mills, from Malmesbury, had worked as station officer at the airport for two years and was also a retained firefighter with Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.
 
Following the incident, an HSE investigation identified that there was no assessment or consideration of the risk by Kemble Air Services with regards to how the fire suppression system would be decommissioned safely.
 
The cylinders had been removed from the containers on the previous day by a number of fire-fighters from the Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service under the direction of Mr Mills. They had also been subject to the same risks from the cylinders.
 
Kemble Air Services Ltd, of Cotswold Airfield, Kemble, Nr Cirencester was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £98,000 in costs after being found guilty of two breaches of regulation 3(1) of the management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
 
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Ian Whittles, said: “Kemble Air Services failed to ensure the safety of its employees and others who were carrying out work to decommission fire suppression systems.
 
“This incident could have been prevented if Kemble Air Services had the appropriate oversight and control of the project to develop the training facility. They should have ensured that the work was suitably planned following a full assessment of the risks associated with the work. Sadly their failing to suitably assess the risks and implement the necessary controls led to the death of Mr Mills.”

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