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Last Updated: Monday, 3 December 2007, 17:00 GMT
Fireworks death blast remembered
Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker
Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker died in the explosion
A two-minute silence has been held on the first anniversary of an explosion at a fireworks depot which killed two fire service personnel.

Brian Wembridge, 63, and Geoff Wicker, 49, died in the blast at Festival Fireworks UK Ltd, in Shortgate, near Lewes, East Sussex, on 3 December 2006.

The two men were remembered by friends and colleagues at the county's fire service headquarters in Eastbourne.

The fireworks depot was also shut during Monday as a mark of respect.

The silence in Eastbourne was observed at 1442 GMT, a year to the minute since the explosion.

At that time last year the emergency services had already been dealing with a fire at the depot for nearly an hour.

Mr Wembridge and Mr Wicker were among 12 people caught in the blast.

'Needless danger'

A union flag was flown at half-mast at the East Sussex fire service headquarters.

A spokesman said: "Grief does not end with the first anniversary, but it is an important milestone and provides a time for remembrance and assessment.

"They were superb ambassadors for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and will never be forgotten."

Aerial view of the scene
The industrial site was devastated by the fire and explosion

Full inquests into the deaths have yet to be held, while Sussex Police and the Health and Safety Executive are still investigating the explosion.

Plans to rebuild the destroyed depot and sell fireworks from the Marlie Farm site were recently given the go-ahead by Lewes District Council.

But the proposals have met criticism from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), with leaders claiming not enough has been done to ensure no repeat of the tragedy.

It has called for an overhaul of the regulations that cover the import, manufacture, transport and storage of fireworks in the UK.

The FBU warned that emergency services and the public were being put in "needless danger because of confused regulation, lack of monitoring and the poor labelling of imported fireworks".

General secretary Matt Wrack said containers packed with fireworks which exploded in fires could cause the same devastation as some military bombs and artillery shells.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Firefighters gather to pay tribute to blast dead



SEE ALSO
Explosion depot re-build backed
24 Oct 07 |  Sussex
Depot blast 'cost more than 3m'
08 Feb 07 |  Sussex
Fireworks depot blaze kills two
03 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties

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