Imagine going to work to find a bag full of live hand grenades on your office doorstep; and what’s more they are damaged and someone’s half pulled the safety pins! Frightening?
Well basically that’s what happened to the Swanage Coastguard Team last night.
Volunteer rescue officers turned up to training on Thursday night to find a plastic bag containing seven out of date, damaged flares had been left on the doorstep of the Coastguard Station.
After donning full protective equipment the flares were examined and found to be over 15 years out of date. Furthermore they had been stored close to a heat source and had partially melted making them very unstable. Officers moved the flares to a safe place and evacuated that part of the Coastguard building.
An ‘immediate’ call was made to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Portland who requested photos. The Sector Manager then deliberated whether to call the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team (Bomb Squad) to Swanage to deal with these in situ.
After examining the photographs a decision was made that these should be taken immediately to the RNLI Headquarters in Poole for safe disposal. The Rescue Truck was emptied of all equipment and the flares placed in the correct transportation box/cages and an explosive manifest completed. Three Coastguard Rescue Officers then carefully drove the pyrotechnics to RNLI Poole who accept such flares and charge nothing to so. The flares have now been destroyed.
The dumping of explosive devices in a public car park is appalling. Truly reprehensible.
Our doorstep happens to be within 2m of a notice board in a public car park. These pyrotechnic flares are safe when used correctly but MUST be disposed of correctly. They are immensely powerful devices for their size. A flare used incorrectly can kill; easily.
A number of local children use the car park to skateboard and to learn to ride their pushbikes. It beggars belief that someone chose to dump the devices in full knowledge of the potential danger. An inquisitive child finding these could easily have set these off.
IT IS A CRIMINAL OFFENCE TO LEAVE FLARES/PYROTECHNICS AT A COASTGUARD STATION.
The person responsible is being actively sought and we will examine the CCTV and pass any evidence to Dorset Police. If you have any knowledge of the person(s) responsible please call the Portland Coastguard on 01305 760439 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.