The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) said today (Tuesday, 29 th April) that the level of response from the fire services to two recent incidents in Clare and Galway confirm its concerns on the impact of cutbacks on the emergency services.

IFESA National Chairman, John Kidd said that in one incident in North Clare on Sunday only six fire fighters responded and had to travel a distance of nearly 30 km from Ennistymon which would have taken approximately 30 minutes from time of call to attending the incident. It was also worrying that no other stations responded to the incident. Regrettably the fire resulted in a fatality.

‘This level of response to major incidents just weeks after the adoption by Clare County Councillors of the controversial Fire and Emergency Plan for the county is very worrying and raises major Health and Safety concerns for emergency personnel'.

‘In the second tragic incident in Co Galway in March only four fire fighters were available to respond initially from Gort fire station and they had to wait over 20 minutes for back up crew to arrive from other stations before they could send in a Breathing Apparatus (BA) team.

Regrettably there were two fire fatalities at this incident. The short crewing remains in place in


‘IFESA is very concerned that the planned reduction in numbers of Fire Fighters is dangerous and requires an immediate investigation by the Health and Safety Authority. By comparison to the situation in Clare and Galway now, a house fire in Dublin with a person in the building will see a response with a minimum of 3 fire engines, a rescue tender, a district officer and a Dublin Fire Brigade Ambulance – in total an initial response of 24 Fire Fighter paramedics responding to the incident from the time of the call'.

‘The recent incidents in Clare and Galway confirm the views expressed by IFESA in its submission to both Councils that the proposals adopted in their Fire and Emergency Plans under the Department of the Environment sponsored Keeping Communities Safe (KCS) strategy are ‘unsafe, unworkable and expose firefighters and the communities they serve to unacceptable risks.'

‘The concerns expressed by IFESA on the impact of these cuts by local authorities on the fire and emergency services are unfortunately proving to be reflected in levels of response to emergency incidents. We are again appealing to the electorate in Clare and Galway, and all constituencies to make the future of their fire and ambulance services a key election issue in the forthcoming local and European elections.'

‘The candidates have to be held to account and the forthcoming local elections will be extremely important for the protection of local fire and emergency services into the future with the role of local councils in shaping the future of these services is probably one of the most important functions that local councillors have.'

IFESA National Vice Chairman, Ros MacCobb said :'At a time when county councils are being pressured to cut services under the Keeping Communities Safe Strategy it is vital that candidates in the upcoming local elections set out clearly where they stand on the future of the fire services in their area. Voters should be asking the hard questions on the doorsteps of these candidates. Do they support the Keep Community Safe Strategy which is template for cutting local fire services? Do they support reductions in staffing and the number of local fire stations? Do they believe that professional fire fighters should be replaced with a growing reliance on voluntary services?'

Media Contacts : John Kidd IFESA National Chairperson 087-6588999  

Ros MacCobb 087-2164533 / Derek Cunningham 086-2430535

News - Press and Media