By Owen Ryan
THE lives of Clare’s fire fighters are being put at risk following a decision by the County Council made on Monday, SIPTU has claimed.
On Monday at its meeting in Kilkee the Council adopted a new Fire and Emergencies Operations Plan in accordance with Section 26 of the Fire Services Act. It was passe without debate.
In a statement on Wednesday night SIPTU blasted the move. “This decision means that elected members have, without any discussion of information, placed the lives of fire fighters at great risk and endangered the public. All Fire Stations in the county, along with families, are expressing extreme anger at how public representatives could have taken such a vote and indeed why.”
The SIPTU statement outlined the fire fighters objections with what they say the plan will mean. “The extreme safety risk arises from the proposition to now send only four crews on a Fire appliance where the national and international best practice is six. To expect four fire fighters to try to deal with a fire effectively means that the crew would have to stand by while people were trapped in a building while awaiting extra crew from another station elsewhere in the county. The time delay here would undoubtedly lead to tragedy.
“In the aftermath of the inquest and ongoing investigation into the tragedy in Bray, Co Wicklow, the issue of crew levels going to fires is now of critical importance. For public representatves not to consult with those who risk their lieves every time they respond to an emergency call is a total insult to Clare fire fighters.”
However Chief Fire Officer Adrian Kelly rejected several of the claims made by SIPTU and claimed they are based on a poor understanding of what is actually proposed. “They should read the plan and examine it in more detail, they appear to be basing their comments on scaremongering by others.”
He claimed that fire fighters were given ample invited to assist with the creation of the plan, but decided not to engage. “We went through a process for 12 months with Clare County Council. The fire fighters were invited to sit on a sub committee with councillors and management and their union instructed them not to attend.”
Mr Kelly claimed that the number of staff at Shannon would increase from 12 to 15, that potential closure Kilkee and Killaloe stations would be avoided and there would be no changes at Kilrush, Scariff and Ennistymon.