Crane driver declared a hero after crane collapses at Falmouth Docks

Crane driver declared a hero after crane collapses at Falmouth Docks

A CRANE driver is being hailed a hero for averting a potentially fatal accident when his crane collapsed at Falmouth Docks this morning.

Emergency services were called to the docks just before 9am after the 58-year-old structure crashed to the ground as it worked on the Royal Navy ship RFA Tidespring.

Witnesses reported that the crane driver remained in his cab as the cables started to snap.

He realised that the crane could collapse on the ship which was full of workers carrying out a refit as part of a £900 million Ministry of Defence contract.

He swung it away from the ship even as the jib started to crash to the ground putting him in danger as well.

One worker from Pendennis Shipyard, who did not wish to be identified, said he had heard that the crane operator “apparently did a great job” in avoiding hitting anything.

A retired crane driver who often manned the very same crane told the Packet that this was the second time one of the cranes had come down and they were very old and had had their day.

Witnesses described hearing a massive crash which shook the ground as the crane hit the deck.

Alice Gobell, 26, a drawing student from Oxford who lives nearby said: “It sounded like a lot of metal coming down. I thought it could lots of heavy things falling over. It didn’t sound very good. I then heard the sirens going off.”

The docks were evacuated because of fears that acetylene canisters buried in the wreckage could explode.

A major incident was declared and a 200m exclusion zone was set up by the police and homes were evacuated.

Police cordons were eventually lifted at lunchtime and dock workers allowed back onto the site.

In a statement, docks operators A&P Falmouth said: “This morning there was an incident at A&P Falmouth involving one of the facility cranes.

“No one was injured in the incident however all personnel have been temporarily evacuated from the docks whilst an assessment of the area is made. A full health and safety investigation will take place.”

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said one firefighter had received minor injuries at the scene.

They said they received the first of a number of calls at 8.44am to a report of a crane collapse at Falmouth Docks that had resulted in damage to acetylene cylinders causing a leak.
Crews were dispatched from Falmouth and Truro Community Fire Stations in line with the pre-planned attendance for this type of incident.
“The explosive nature of Acetylene gas necessitates an exclusion area as a precaution and for this reason an orderly evacuation of the docks was carried out and the Police initiated a cordon,” said the statement.
“Fortunately there were no injuries to any dock workers or the crane operator as a result of the collapsed crane and the Fire and Rescue Service attendance is for the purpose of dealing with what the Service determines as a minor hazardous material incident.
“Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus carried out a survey of the affected cylinders using thermal imaging cameras to assess whether there was any internal heating. In addition water spray from firefighting jets was used to disperse the acetylene gas that had leaked whilst Firefighters isolated each of the cylinders. Specialist advice was received from the company who supply the cylinders.
“The Services Emergency Management team liaised with personnel on scene and with other authorities to ensure the needs of persons evacuated were being considered.
“During the assessment of the cylinders a Firefighter suffered minor injuries and was taken to the local minor injuries unit for a precautionary check.
“Following a thorough assessment the scene cordon has now been reduced to the immediate area around the crane and the ongoing incident investigation has been formally handed over to the docks management team.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Phil Martin said “Incidents involving acetylene cylinders require a well-managed response and the cordon is put in place to ensure the safety of members of the public. I am pleased to report that the Firefighter who was injured suffered only minor injuries and was taken to hospital as a precaution, we do of course wish him a speedy recovery. I would like to thank the management and staff at the docks, the Police and members of the public for the swift evacuation and adherence to the cordon. Whilst we recognise that it causes disruption the safety of the public is always paramount in our decision making.”

2:45pm

The wrecked craneFalmouth Packet:

2:44pm

The accident could have been so much worseFalmouth Packet:

2:44pm

The acetylene canisters are buried under this tangled metalFalmouth Packet:

2:42pm

The crane was built in 1958 by Stothert & Pitt Falmouth Packet:

2:40pm

These close up pictures by Packet correspondent David Barnicoat show the mangled wreckage of the crane. The crane driver is being hailed a hero for swinging the crane away from the RFA Tidespring as the structure started to collapse. It would have taken great bravery to swing the crane away from over the ship as it started to collapse.Falmouth Packet:

1:32pm

The fire service hass issued the following statement:

At 0844 on 10 May the Service received the first of a number of calls to a reported Crane collapse at Falmouth Docks that had subsequently resulted in damage to acetylene cylinders causing a leak.
Crews were dispatched from Falmouth and Truro Community Fire Stations in line with the pre-planned attendance for this type of incident.
The explosive nature of Acetylene gas necessitates an exclusion area as a precaution and for this reason an orderly evacuation of the docks was carried out and the Police initiated a cordon.
Fortunately there were no injuries to any dock workers or the crane operator as a result of the collapsed crane and the Fire and Rescue Service attendance is for the purpose of dealing with what the Service determines as a minor hazardous material incident.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus carried out a survey of the affected cylinders using thermal imaging cameras to assess whether there was any internal heating. In addition water spray from firefighting jets was used to disperse the acetylene gas that had leaked whilst Firefighters isolated each of the cylinders. Specialist advice was received from the company who supply the cylinders.
The Services Emergency Management team liaised with personnel on scene and with other authorities to ensure the needs of persons evacuated were being considered.
During the assessment of the cylinders a Firefighter suffered minor injuries and was taken to the local minor injuries unit for a precautionary check.
Following a thorough assessment the scene cordon has now been reduced to the immediate area around the crane and the ongoing incident investigation has been formally handed over to the docks management team.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Phil Martin said “Incidents involving acetylene cylinders require a well-managed response and the cordon is put in place to ensure the safety of members of the public. I am pleased to report that the Firefighter who was injured suffered only minor injuries and was taken to hospital as a precaution, we do of course wish him a speedy recovery. I would like to thank the management and staff at the docks, the Police and members of the public for the swift evacuation and adherence to the cordon. Whilst we recognise that it causes disruption the safety of the public is always paramount in our decision making.”
Fire and Rescue crews were expected to leave the site by 1300 hours.

1:01pm

LATEST: Police cordons have been lifted but firefighters are still on site following the collapse of a crane at Falmouth Docks this morning.

Falmouth Packet:

The crane, which was working on the RFA Tidespring currently in dry dock, collapsed some time before 9am, leading to the evacuation of the docks.

While no injuries have been reported, a 200m cordon was put in place and firefighters were called due to the presence of potentially explosive acetylene gas cylinders.

At least one worker has praised the actions of the crane operator, who manged to position the machine in such a way that it did not hit the Tidespring, where people were working.

In a statement, docks operators A&P Falmouth said: “This morning there was an incident at A&P Falmouth involving one of the facility cranes.

“No one was injured in the incident however all personnel have been temporarily evacuated from the docks whilst an assessment of the area is made. A full health and safety investigation will take place. Personnel will return to work as soon as possible.”

Source: Falmouth Packet  (www.falmouthpacket.co.uk), 10 May 2017

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