Irish Daily MailYET another fireman was left gasping for air while fighting a blaze in a burning building when his breathing apparatus malfunctioned.

It is the second time in eight weeks this has happened.

It follows an incident in January when the breathing apparatus of two other firemen stopped working during an operation to rescue eight people from a blazing building.

As reported in the Mail at the time, at least another eight 'catastrophic episodes of equipment failures' had been reported to Dublin City Council chiefs in less than two years. In the most recent case, a fireman had reached the first landing in a derelict building opposite Coombe Hospital on Cork Street, in Dublin'ssouth inner city.

His crew, from Dolphins Barn station, had rushed to the 7.30pm fire last Friday week fearing there might have been someone inside. Derelict buildings in the area are popular haunts for homeless people.

But as they began fighting the blaze inside, the breathing apparatus of one firefighter suddenly stopped working. The matter, which has been confirmed by Dublin Fire Brigade, is now being investigated.

So too is another malfunction eight weeks ago during a training exercise in Blanchardstown.

Fianna Fáil Senator Darragh O'Brien said last night: 'Complaints and issues with Dublin Fire Brigade equipment is very much an ongoing situation. And it increasingly appears as if the staff are not properly resourced to do their job, 'The fact that breathing apparatus have had so many problems is extremely serious.

'Not only should the public be able to rely on their fire fighters to help them in times of need, but fire fighters themselves have to be able to rely on their own equipment.'

He added: 'Somebody should be accountable for what is happening at Dublin Fire Brigade.

'These firefighters are part and parcel of the real frontline emergency services staff who put their lives on the line for us.'

A source within Dublin Fire Brigade said last night: 'The lads are increasingly worried about their breathing equipment.

'They do not believe their concerns are being taken seriously enough. 'The fact that they still have to go out on 999 callouts with these sets that have a history of malfunctioning is a big concern.'

Last night, a Dublin Fire Brigaide spokesperson said: 'There was an issue with a breathing apparatus set on Friday, September 5. The matter is under investigation.

'The set used was from Dolphins Barn Station. The incident in Blanchardstown was investigated.'

They said the fire brigaide 'has a robust and rigorous maintenance schedule in place and emergency ambulances undergo weekly safety critical checks.

'There is an ongoing maintenance and replacement scheme and equipment and or parts are replaced and or repaired as necessary.'

Past reassurances about the safety of their breathing equipment have, however, failed to convince a number of fire fighters.

As a result, the Irish Fire and Emergency Service Association launched a High Court action against Dublin City Council over the 'regular failures' of the Scott ACSFX BA apparatus.

The union claim not enough is being done to address concerns about this equipment, which was introduced into the brigade in late 2011.

Shortly after the equipment was introduced, however, issues started to emerge. UK-based Scott Safety declined to comment.


UK-based company Scott Safety claim on their website that the Scott ACSFX - which is used by Dublin Fire Brigade - 'is significantly lighter than any other carrying system and offers the wearer the ultimate in comfort and flexibility.

'The result is a considerably reduced user burden combined with the highest standards of performance.'

It provides the firefighter with a system suitable to be carried into a burning and smoke-filled building and enough air to - in theory - last for three-quarters of an hour.

The cylinder that goes with the breathing apparatus set is just over a foot tall and contains about 2340 litres of compressed air.

Scott Safety regard the system as 'the flagship set of the ACS range' which 'considerably (reduces) user burden combined with the highest standards of performance'.

And, despite the malfunctions recorded here, they also state that it 'offers the highest levels of protection'.

Neil Michael

Chief Reporter
Irish Daily Mail
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