The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) today (Friday) called on the Minister of State, at the Dept. of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Fergus O Dowd T.D to withdraw comments he made in the Seanad that retained fire-fighters are not really firemen.

Minister O' Dowd made his comments recently in an adjournment debate on the future of the fire services where he statedsometimes you would have a policy of retained firemen while they wouldn't be officially Firemen - they are available to come out and are trained to come out in the event of a serious fire”.

Responding to the Minister's comments, IFESA National Chairman, John Kidd said:

‘These comment goes to show the little regard that both Minister O'Dowd and Minster Hogan have for frontline personnel across the country. In fact part-time retained professionals are exactly the same as full time professional fire-fighters and make up two-thirds of all fire-fighters in Ireland. Retained/Part-Time fire service deal with all types of incidents in this country and outside of the major cities and with the exception of only a few large towns they are the only type of operational fire-fighters available.

‘Retained fire fighters and their families feel completely undermined and insulted by these comments which show no understanding of the level of sacrifice made by them and their families 24 hours a day to provide a full time service at a part time rate.'

Mr Kidd said the Ministers statement and his defence of Minister Hogan's ‘Keeping Communities Safe' policy for the reconfiguration of the fire services confirmed that he has no real understanding of how the fire service operated.

‘For Minister O'Dowd to defend the flawed KCS policy by telling the Seanad that the Government are improving the safety of the Irish people with a policy that will reduce manning levels of fire-fighters on a fire engine and ultimately see rural and small station closures nationwide is beyond believe.

‘The “Keeping Communities Safe” policy is in reality just a front for a cost cutting exercise in all the wrong places within the fire service while protecting a top heavy system of management with over 30 Chief Fire Officers and a staggering 375 Assistant Chief Fire Officers.

Media Contacts : IFESA Chairman, John Kidd 087-6588999/ Vice Chairman Ros MacCobb 087-2164533