Halloween a time of highest incidence of assault on fire-fighters

The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has called on the Government to show greater urgency in bringing forward legislation to improve the protection of fire and ambulance personnel from assault in the course of their duties.

Click to hear an interview with  IFESA Vice President, Ros MacCobb on RTE's Drivetime programme.

Ros MacCobb, IFESA National Vice Chairman said emergency personnel are bracing themselves for another busy Halloween this year and unfortunately it is more than likely that members of the fire and ambulance services will face injury and assault with vehicles will be damaged.

He said the recent rejection by the Government of a Fianna Fáil Bill (The Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill 2012)to impose mandatory prison sentences on people convicted of assault on emergency workers while on duty, was disappointing.

“Thankfully the majority of people in our society appreciate and respect the work of fire-fighters and other front line emergency personnel. However, there is a need for specific legislation to protect emergency personnel from assault and also sends a clear message to those involved in such attacks that they will not be tolerated and the law will deal with them harshly. “

“In rejecting the Fianna Fail Bill recently the Government said it was awaiting the final report on mandatory sentencing from the Law Reform Commission and the outcome of a strategic review of penal and sentencing policies. The Government must take these opportunities to put in place legislation which has specific penalties for assault and injury to emergency workers while on duty.”

Fire Fighter & Paramedic Mac Cobb appealed to the public to help ensure that fire-fighters are not injured this Halloween.

“Unfortunately, at this time of year we see a significant rise in attacks on Fire, ambulance and Gardaí. These attacks have seriously injured crews in the past. Attacks on vehicles result in them being taken off the road for repairs and while this is happening there is a reduction in emergency cover in the area affected while reserve vehicles if available are equipped. This in turn delays the response of emergency services in case of a real emergency”.

“We would appeal to the public to support us in responding to calls outs over Halloween and to report any incidents to the Gardaí.”

IFESA also appealed to the public to take extra care this Halloween and in particular to follow the safety guidelines if illegal fireworks are being used and handled.

“In particular we would remind parents that that illegal explosives or homemade fireworks can and do cause injury to people often life changing injuries. Children from age 5 to 14 are most frequently involved in fireworks-related injuries, and  IFESA points out the need for close adult supervision of all fireworks activities. Halloween fireworks can cause injuries serious enough to require hospital treatment. Severe injuries caused by fireworks can include burns, lacerations, amputations, and blindness.”

Sparklers are often considered harmless fun. However, they can burn as hot as 650° Celsius (1200 °Fahrenheit) and can ignite clothing.  As with other fireworks, always use them outdoors under adult supervision.  Place used sparklers immediately into a metal container.

Media Contacts:

Ros Mac Cobb 087-2164533

John Kidd 087 685999

Derek Cunningham 086-2430535