4 April 2013
The Court of Inquiry into the West Melton rifle range fire which took place on 23 January 2013 has been completed.
The conclusion of the Court is that the West Melton fire was caused by a hot fragment from a grenade which ignited grass on the edge of the grenade range.
The Court has determined that the range practice was conducted in accordance with existing fire permit procedures and the Range Standing Orders. A fireman and fire appliance were present and this was over and above the requirements of range standing orders.
Procedures are already underway at West Melton to address findings from the COI to minimise any future fire risk. This will include:
- Enlargement of effective fire breaks along the range boundary and inside the range.
- Enlargement of the cleared gravel area around the grenade range to remove the fire risk from hot fragments.
- The assessment of already cleared impact areas on other ranges at West Melton to reduce fire risk.
- Revision of the range management plan with Defence contractors to ensure ongoing maintenance is sufficient to minimise fire risk and that contractual standards are maintained.
Once implemented the Defence fire breaks surrounding West Melton range will benefit neighbouring properties as the range will effectively become a fire containment zone. Defence will be taking every measure and safety precaution at West Melton range to ensure that an incident such as the fire on 23 January does not occur in future.
Compensation to organisations and some residents may be required; however this assessment is outside of the COI’s scope and is being settled between insurance agencies.
A COI is designed to be an expeditious fact finding procedure so that a matter can be investigated and if necessary, prompt remedial action can be implemented. A COI has a greater status in law than command investigations, and therefore offers certain protections which command investigations do not.
No further information on the Court of Inquiry will be publicly available.