The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) said today (Tuesday) that media reports of talks between the   National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the  National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management to reach agreement to allow the ambulance service request fire fighter assistance without being billed confirmed IFESA's view that the practice of ‘Call Vetting' is widespread and is putting individuals and communities at risk.

IFESA Vice Chairman Ros MacCobb said ‘ IFESA highlighted the growing use of ‘ Call Vetting' where Chief Fire Officers, ambulance personnel and even Gardai are assessing emergency situations before deciding if fire services should be called out – but both the NAS and the Chief Fire Officers denied that the practice was in place. Today's report (in the Irish Examiner ) confirms that ‘Call Vetting' is being increasingly relied on to cut costs and save money at the expense of providing proper and timely fire and emergency services to the public.

‘The confirmation that the NAS is in discussions with the National Directorate of Fire and Emergency as well as the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government to agree when the NAS should activate/ request the support of the fire service without being charged, demonstrates that ‘Call Vetting' as a cost saving exercise is impacting on the quality and safety of our emergency services'.

‘Despite the denials from management we are seeing a greater reliance on ‘Call Vetting' as a means of implementing tighter financial control on the provision of a vital public service. Today's report is evidence that management are using ‘Call Vetting' to cut costs, which from the public point of view means that a broader spectrum of calls are now met with either a delayed response, or no response at all from the emergency Fire & Rescue services..”

“This insidious way of implementing more cutbacks in the Fire & Rescue service is a ‘false economy' because it is widely accepted that early intervention by fire and emergency services in medical emergencies cuts down on long term costs to the HSE and other services. This practice of ‘Call Vetting' is being adopted in the majority of Fire Brigades around the country.'

‘The use of ‘Call Vetting' together with the cuts being implemented through the Keep Communities Safe' (KCS) policy involving the loss of jobs and closure of fire stations will compromise the safety of the public and communities throughout the country.”

‘IFESA is calling on local public representatives to ‘Wake Up' to the practice of ‘Call Vetting' being implemented by the fire service management and the threat that this poses to the public through the non-attendance of the fire services at emergency situations for cost cutting reasons. The Fire and Emergency services are the safety net for any community and we are calling on councillors and local representatives to defend these services against further cutbacks.'


Media Contacts : Ros MacCobb  0872334203/ Derek Cunningham 0862430535