Human error factor in explosion

By Corey Charlton -
Hastings firemen at Mayfair School. Photo / Warren Buckland
Hastings firemen at Mayfair School. Photo / Warren Buckland

An explosion at a Hawke's Bay school was caused by a parent using a portable gas cooker incorrectly to cook homemade meat patties.

The explosion at Mayfair School on Tuesday burnt the arm of a parent. She was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital with moderates injuries and discharged later that day.

The portable cooker was used as part of an outdoor education exercise in which students created their own meat patties for parents to cook.

Mayfair School principal Tanya Bunny acknowledged there had been an element of human error but said there was a "strong possibility" of product fault due to the risks posed by misuse of the equipment.

"The exercise for the children was that they designed and created their meat patties, and then the parent helpers cooked them as part of an outdoor education week," she said.

"I met with board representatives in the afternoon and we've undertaken a review of safety procedures when cooking at school, and I [have] already made the changes needed to keep everybody safe so that this doesn't happen again."

The school had removed from use all cookers of that particular type and in future staff were to set up all cooking situations.

"We really appreciate our parent helpers ... We do not want this experience to prevent our children from experiencing the importance of outdoor education."

Fire Risk Management Officer Mike Finucane said there had been similar incidents reported nationally and the Fire Service was in discussions with Energy Safety Services (ESS) regarding the product.

He confirmed there were a combination of factors that led to the explosion.

"There has been some issues with the same device in other parts of the country ... So the Fire Service is working with ESS to identify the problem and also to seek a resolution, basically."

The explosions resulting from the overheating of the gas canister were known to create fire balls and cause severe burns.

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