Staff shortages are putting Dublin Fire Brigade firefighters at risk

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TD for Dublin South West Sean Crowe has criticised the Government for failing to see that Dublin Fire Brigade is properly staffed and resourced, saying that shortages are putting firefighters at risk and are directly impacting on their response time and capacity to respond to major incidents.

Teachta Crowe said: “We need to remind ourselves that Dublin Fire Brigade responds to fires, car crashes, accidents, storms such as we experienced recently and emergencies, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It operates 12 full-time stations, inclusive of the station at the Belgard Road in Tallaght. This work is being done even though the service is almost 100 firefighters short of what is required to adequately and safely man our fire stations.

“It is an almost daily occurrence that vehicles are unavailable for deployment owing to insufficient firefighters to staff them. Staff are constantly battling exhaustion owing to, we are told, repeated requests to work overtime and to cover staff shortages. Simply put, our fire service is at crisis point.

“This is not a new issue. Dublin Fire Brigade has been highlighting severe understaffing for years, which has worsened in the face of inaction by senior management. Tallaght fire station is the centre for responses to major incidents in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow. My fear is that it does not have the personnel or the necessary equipment to respond to such emergencies. The Minister might address that in his response. “The lack of planning is evidenced elsewhere in that there are only 36 trainees to graduate this January, which is not nearly enough to fill the existing vacancies in the service. More firefighters will retire next year. If this continues, more gaps will open up and responders will be spread even more thinly.

“The joint Dublin fire and ambulance medical response model that currently operates and delivers fully trained medical responders is, I am told, also under threat and needs to be supported, not changed. The failure of the Government to ensure that Dublin Fire Brigade has the personnel and equipment it needs is also leaving the public vulnerable.

“Staff shortages directly affect the emergency response times of Dublin Fire Brigade and must be immediately addressed because understaffing or delayed response times put the public at serious risk.

“In my area of Tallaght, there was a fire recently in an apartment block. That incident showed the skills and ability of the ambulance and fire brigade services, but it also served as a warning in regard to resourcing and staffing of our fire services. On that evening, at the height of the response, there were eight fire brigades on the scene, which is the majority of Dublin Fire Brigade’s strength.

“Had a second major incident occurred simultaneously, it would have stretched Dublin Fire Brigade’s response capability to the brink. We know that the turntable ladder is located in the city and of the concern that raises in terms of delays, etc. A major incident on the M50 and, at the same time, a fire on the north side would put the fire services in the impossible position of having to divide resources with lives in balance.

“In a city of well over one million inhabitants, we need a fire service that has the capability to respond to more than one major incident at any one time. The current situation whereby on-call vehicles are leaving stations with less than a full complement of firefighters is putting the crews and public at risk.”

Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of www.newsgroup.ie with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at info@newsgroup.ie.

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