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Family of Private Rob Wood finally get answers about his death
THE family of a Hampshire soldier killed in a tent fire in Afghanistan today urged the Ministry of Defence to learn lessons from his death after a coroner criticised them for a catalogue of failings.
After a long three year wait, the parents and partner of Private Rob Wood told of their relief that they finally had answers about how the 28-year-old came to die.
The dad-of-one who was fondly known as Woody and was based at Marchwood was killed along with his colleague Dean Hutchinson, 23, when a blaze swept through the transport troop tent in Camp Bastion in the early hours of Valentines Day in 2011.
An inquest heard how by the time firefighters arrived at the scene the blaze had taken hold, with flames approximately 3ft high and only the metal tent poles remained of the structure.
Investigators concluded that the fire started in the vicinity of the electrical appliances and quickly spread, igniting combustible materials stored nearby.
Yesterday a coroner levelled criticism at the MOD and said there had been eight areas of ''systemic failure'' in the circumstances leading to the men's deaths.
- Delays in alerting the military fire brigade because soldiers at the scene did not know the emergency 222 number.
- Both senior commanders and fire safety officers did not know the soldiers were sleeping on duty during night shifts
- There was confusion surrounding who was responsible for checking the smoke detectors in the tent
- Electrical items in the Transport Troop tent had not been safety tested
- A new fire risk assessment should have been carried out as soon as the extension was built
He added that: “Service men and woman put their lives on the line when they go out on operations but they do not expect to be put at severe risk when camped in a long established base like Camp Bastion.”
Pte Wood, known as Woody, had become a father to a boy, Noah, shortly before he died. He was a driver port operator, posted to 17 Port and Maritime Regiment while Pte Hutchinson was from County Durham. Both men served with the Royal Logistics Corp.
Mr Ridley, coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, recorded a narrative verdict and listed seven ''contributory factors'' in the deaths of the two soldiers.
They included a systemic failure by the chain of command, the failure to police the occurrence of sleeping on duties at night through the use of random checks and the failure to provide effective training.
Mr Ridley said he will also be compiling a report to ensure other deaths could be prevented.
The MoD now has 56 days to reply in writing, giving details of actions that have been taken or are proposed to be taken, or an explanation as to why no action will be taken to prevent future similar deaths.
Last night a British Army spokesman said: ''Our thoughts remain with the families of Private Dean Hutchinson and Private Rob Wood.
''The coroner has identified a number of failings that contributed to their tragic deaths for which we are very sorry.
''A number of improvements have been made to fire safety procedures since 2011 but we will study the coroner's recommendations to ensure everything is being done to reduce the risk to personnel and prevent future incidents.''
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