Blast Victim Reported Unsafe Environment

Monday, March 30, 2015 @ 10:03 AM gHale


After one of the two workers killed in a fireworks factory blast complained about unsafe working conditions, the Alabama Fire Marshal’s office started an investigation and has now shut down a portion of the Ultratec plant.

A cease-and-desist order will close part of the Ultratec plant in Madison County, AL. Fire Marshal Ed Paulk said he delivered the order to the company after finding code compliance violations after the February blast killed two workers and left several others injured.

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The order affects the production portion of the facility, where the fireworks end up packed and assembled.

An inspection following the explosion cites five violations, ranging from improper storage of materials to cross-contamination concerns.

State Fire Marshal Inspector Greg Pinkard said in the documentation the company’s general manager hired a man to manage one side of the plant.

Pinkard said the general manager admitted he hired the man to push employees for production and he didn’t know how the chemicals mixture formulas worked.

The man went to employee Aimee Cothran the morning of the explosion and wanted her to produce 18,000 grams of material every 30 minutes, according to the report.

Cothran said only 5,000 could end up produced. Multiple employees stated the man threatened and cursed at employees and threatened to fire them.

Witnesses said Cothran went to the general manager about the supervisor’s threats and said it was an unsafe working environment.

Cothran had 14 years experience. Witnesses said Cothran planned to go to the company owner the week she died in the explosion.

Paulk said Ultratec has five days to appeal the order with the Madison County Circuit Court.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms confirmed it is now looking into what it calls “irregularity issues” involving the plant, which has encountered several other safety incidents in its history.

An ATF spokesperson said the company is aware of these issues and is working with the agency.

We have reached out to Ultratec company representatives and are awaiting a response.

The fire marshal said he expects to be back at the plant when they notify him they are ready for an inspection to ensure they are now compliant with code.



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