Warning to lorry drivers after tragedy

12 October 2007

Lorry drivers are being urged to be careful when using portable cooking stoves following a tragic accident earlier this year.

A driver died after stopping on the A4 near Taplow and using an LPG stove in his cab to cook a meal during an overnight break.

He fell victim to one of the fumes it gave off in the confined space – carbon monoxide, known as the “silent killer”. After starting to lose consciousness, he noticed the pan had caught fire and knocked the stove over while trying to remove it. He died shortly afterwards.

Station Manager Jeremy Williams of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, who carried out the fire investigation that was presented to the coroner at last month’s inquest, has written to the Freight Transport Association asking it to draw the tragedy to its members’ attention.

Speaking after the inquest, Jeremy said: “I have asked them to relay the circumstances to lorry drivers to highlight the dangers of using any portable gas equipment within vehicles, and to follow carefully the manufacturer’s guidance on any cooking or heating equipment.

“The driver would have been unaware of the carbon monoxide fumes given off by the stove, as they are invisible and have no smell.

“Carbon monoxide can overcome its victims, as was the case in this situation. It is likely the driver was only semi-conscious when he noticed that his cooking had caught fire. He managed to move the pan but in the process knocked over the stove, causing a fire. By this time he was unable to escape.”

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death at the inquest at Amersham Coroner’s Court on 19 September 2007. The accident happened in May.

The warning comes just days before Monday’s national launch of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. Further information is available on the Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service website here