Leanna Byrne

The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association have called on the Controller and Auditor General to investigate practises of tendering in the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The concerns were raised as a number of applications for fire and rescue service vehicles that have been approved since 2004 have failed to deliver operational vehicles.

Speaking to The Sunday Business Post , IFESA Chairman, John Kidd said: “I can't stand over incompetent management. We ordered a foam tender [vehicle] in 2006 and it was only delivered last year. That is seven years of knocking around.”

A total of €328,938 of grant-aid to Dublin City Council was paid in full in 2008 for the foam tender vehicle, but according to a source within the fire and rescue services, the vehicle is not operational and the Dublin Fire Brigade had been operating without a fire engine that delivers foam to the Docklands for a period of four to five years.

The IFESA, a representative body for employees in the fire and emergency services, claim that they have sent a number of letters and freedom of information requests to the Department for the Environment and Local Government and other bodies calling for an investigation into capital grant funding for fire fighting vehicles.

In a letter to the European Court of Auditors sent late last year, the IFESA said that “we believe there may have been an abuse of exchequer funding through the capital grant funding scheme” and that “capital grant funding was drawn down and paid out but items have failed to be delivered in a reasonable time frame or failed to deliver what was required or tendered”.

The letter also lists at least six fire and emergency vehicles which are either not operational or have ongoing problems. A significant length of time to put vehicles on the road has also been noted in the letter by the association.

“We're getting compressors re-done because the people who buy this stuff do not come from an operational background. The people who are involved in the tendering process kiss ass to get promoted. I'm not interested in any of that. I'm more interested in a service that we can afford to pay that delivers quality for the state.”

When contacted by this newspaper asking about funding management, a Department spokesman said that the purchasing of fire equipment was the responsibility of individual fire authorities.

The IFESA is set to sit before the Labour Court next month after a number of appeals to obtain information through the Freedom of Information Act on the specification of vehicles tendered and delivered to fire brigades. The appeal has went to the High Court this year, but will be pushed back to sit in the Labour Court.