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Fire service cuts emergency response times

“PHENOMENAL effort” on the part of Clare’s fire service was hailed this week, as the Chief Fire Officer revealed that it has significantly cut its average response times to incidents across the county.
At a meeting of the council’s Physical Development Strategic Policy Committee, Adrian Kelly outlined how a new operational plan is being drawn up for the service which also has responsibility for building control.
The existing Fire and Emergency Operations Plan is to be reviewed, taking account of any legislative changes, and will be presented to the SPC before it goes forward for discussion before the full council.
The service which operates out of seven stations, has 75 retained staff in addition to nine senior fire officers, four administrators, two fitters and one station officer.
Chief Fire Officer Kelly outlined how response times have improved over the last five years.
The average time required to mobilise to fires has failed down to 5.28 minutes. In 2016, it had been 5.75. The response time for non-fire incidents was 4.77 minutes in 2020, having fallen from 5.82 minutes in 2016. Operational incidents responded to have increased from 1,022 in 2018 to 1074 in 2020. The number of fires responded to in that period has fallen from 470 to 308.
Mr Kelly outlined how the authority is required to make an operations plan, which involves the review of the current 2014-2019 plan. Key priorities for the service will include a revamp of the station in Ennis.
“It was built in 1979 and is an excellent building for its time,” Mr Kelly said. “We are doing bits and pieces, and would like to redevelop properly. We will be pushing that in whatever way we can.”
Councillor Alan O’Callaghan noted that the county has an array of different issues, “We are coastal and have Shannon, plus two motorways to Dublin on either side. It’s about a lot more than putting out fires.”
He also commended the service’s two fitters on their knowledge and expertise and he urged Mr Kelly to consider bringing in an apprenticeship scheme. He also asked about the condition of hydrants around Clare.
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy raised the issue of redeveloping empty properties.
“We are often told the fire regulations are an obstacle,” she said. “We would love to see those buildings being redeveloped and people living in them.”
Responding, Mr Kelly confirmed the service is aware of the potential of training apprentices.
In respect of hydrants, he said an app developed with Irish Water had offered a good way of tracking their condition.
“We piloted this in North Clare and will be pushing it out,” he said. “When inspections are carried out, people can easily alert Irish Water.”
Director of Services Carmel Kirby described the work of the fire service as outstanding.
“They make a phenomenal effort,” she said. “They are out within five minutes of pagers going off.”
Ms Kirby added the council will always work with those who want to convert old buildings.
“There are ways and means,” she said.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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