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Wirral man prosecuted after dangerously storing 33kg of display fireworks in pub cellar

Wirral man prosecuted after dangerously storing 33kg of display fireworks in pub cellar

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

A Wirral man has been prosecuted by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority (MFRA) after he was found to be storing more than 33kg of display fireworks next to combustible materials in a pub cellar, despite not having a licence.

William Poston, of the Coach & Horses Public House on Hoylake Road, Moreton, appeared before Liverpool Magistrates Court on Thursday 4th October.

The 63-year-old had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to storing fireworks in dangerous conditions. He was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community work.

The court heard how Mr Poston had bought a large number of fireworks and stored them in the cellar of the Coach & Horses Pub, without any regard to the safety of staff or members of the public.

Officers from MFRA discovered the boxes of fireworks – amounting to more than 33kg – piled on the floor of the cellar amongst cardboard boxes, electrical equipment and rubbish.

The court heard that had the electrical equipment started a fire, the fireworks would have become quickly involved due to their close proximity to both the electrical equipment and other combustible materials. The danger of an explosion was so high that the items were seized by officers and immediately removed from the premises.

The court also heard that Mr Poston had failed to follow any of the safety measures required under health and safety regulations for storing fireworks, and had been storing the fireworks without a licence. Any fire would have resulted in an explosion, putting people in the pub or in nearby businesses at risk of serious injury or death as well as the risk posed to the fire fighters responding to any such incident.

Whilst the judge acknowledged that Mr Poston’s early guilty plea had a significant impact on the sentence imposed, the seriousness of the case was emphasised, expressing that it was only by chance that disaster had been avoided.
Station Manager Chris Head, from MFRA, was one of the officers who discovered the boxes of fireworks.

He said: “We found the fireworks piled up in the cellar when they should have been stored in a separate room away from anything that could have started a fire. These were professional display fireworks and extremely powerful explosives which require careful handling and must be kept securely, in line with strict safety conditions under Health & Safety Regulations. Mr Poston had failed to do any of this and put himself and the public at huge risk.”

Mr Poston was also ordered to pay costs amounting to £1,590.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority issues more than 150 licences to store fireworks each year, and works closely with businesses across Merseyside to ensure they store and sell fireworks both safely and legally.

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