The Irish Fire & Emergency Services Association (IFESA) today (Tuesday 27/11/12) called on the Minster for the Environment, Phil Hogan to suspend proposed changes in the Irish Fire Service until the outcome of investigations into the death of two fire fighters is known.

IFESA says the proposed cuts in the Irish fire service that have stemmed from the ‘ Keeping Communities Safe'( KCS) proposals cannot be implemented while the reasons for the deaths of two Bray Fire fighters remain unknown 5 years on.

IFESA National Chairman, John Kidd said the union has already raised major concerns about the potential impact on staffing and safety of the proposals in the ‘ Keeping Communities Safe (KCS)' plan drawn up by the Department's National Directorate for Fire Emergency Management

John Kidd said ; ‘Any attempt to reconfigure and reduce the fire services before we know the details and circumstances that led to the loss of our two colleagues in Bray and the lessons to be learned from that tragic incident will be premature, and ultimately pointless.'

‘IFESA has warned that the KCS proposals will result in the loss of hundreds of front line fire fighter posts around the country, with over a 100 posts being lost in Dublin Fire Brigade alone. These plans if implemented will see fire fighter numbers reduced and fire stations closed, this in turn will compromise the safety of the public and communities throughout the country.'

‘As professional Fire Fighters we have an obligation to inform and highlight serious concerns that exist that would endanger the safety of citizens and fire fighters who serve them. Instead of pushing on with KCS cuts agenda the Minister would be better served to wait till after the findings of the investigations and proceedings in relation to the Bray tragedy become clear. '

IFESA National Vice Chairman, Ros Mac Cobb said ; ‘It is the strong view of the majority of fire fighters throughout the country that the Department of Environment Community & Local Government National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management is failing in its duty of care to the public and the fire fighters who protect them.'

Mr Mac Cobb said there was no consistency in the standards of Health and Safety in the Fire Service around the country.

‘The evidence is there and has been highlighted in the past. Fire fighters have been injured and killed and still these breaches continue. One fire fighter death is one death too many.' he said.

He warned that IFESA will take whatever action is required to protect not only its members but fellow fire fighters and the citizens of this country.

“IFESA is determined to highlight the serious systemic failures at the heart of the Irish Fire Service. There is evidence of a litany of failures and weaknesses across the service and these need to be addressed once and for all.

Among the failures that IFESA have identified are :

•  Failure to address the use of call vetting. This insidious way of implementing more cutbacks in the Fire & Rescue service not only makes no sense from a cost effectiveness point of view but is also dangerous. The public are unaware that their calls for emergency assistance are being processed through a more rigorous ‘Call Vetting' system as a way of saving money. This practice of call vetting is being adopted in the majority of retained / part time Fire Brigades around the country .Those Counties lucky enough to have a Full Time Brigade have not experienced this practice yet, but it only a matter of time.

•  Failure to provide funding to replace fire fighters who have left the service even though the Department states there is “No embargo on recruiting Fire Fighters” . This policy is resulting in an operational short fall in numbers around the Country.

•  Failures in the risk assessment process, from operational duties that fire fighters undertake to the short comings in equipment and training in the service.

•  Failure to address the serious concerns in relation to building construction and fire safety which are legacy of the “building boom” and which have been exposed in incidents like Priory Hall and elsewhere.

•  Failure to implement fully recommendations from previous commissioned reports and reviews of the Irish Fire Service.

“This litany of failures exposes the crisis at the heart of management of the Irish Fire Services.The underlying causes of fire fighter injuries and fatalities are often organisational, and involve matters that management can fix with the right policies, procedures and resources – both nationally and locally. Yet instead of addressing these issues the Minister wants to embark on the implementation of the KCS proposals which will further undermine basic fire services and compromise the safety of frontline fire fighters and the public,” said Ros Mac Cobb.


Media Contacts: John Kidd , National Chairperson IFESA 087 6588999/Ros Mac Cobb , National Vice Chairperson IFESA 087 2164533 /Derek Cunningham , 086 2430535

IFESA Information