By Kim O’Leary
Dublin Fire fighters have warned of the risk to life due to a staffing crisis, with five fire engines taken off the road over the week during the heatwave.
SIPTU Dublin Fire Brigade Convenor, Shane McGill, described it as “an awful situation particularly at this time of year.”
Speaking to the Dublin Gazette, he went on: “The heatwave in itself is a problem as there will be more gorse fires and the job requires overtime, but the problem is that Dublin Fire Brigade is very short-staffed.”
This has resulted in five fire engines being taken off the road this week.
Across the city Dublin Fire Bridage fire appliances and other vehicles are not available due to a lack of firefighters. The fire stations affected include Donnybrook, Dolphins Barn, Phibsboro, North Strand and Tara Street.
“The remaining vehicles currently in operation are understaffed in several stations including Donnybrook, Dolphins Barn, North Strand, Tara Street, Dún Laoghaire, Rathfarnham, Phibsboro and Tallaght,” said Mr McGill.
According to Mr Gill, in 2015 Dublin City Council agreed to hire more firefighters to reach its goal of 955 firefighters in Dublin.
“But now the council has acknowledged that 955 firefighters is not fit for purpose due to new legislation the government has brought in for maternity and paternity leave etc. We need to increase our workforce by at least 60 more firefighters, we have 36 new recruits at the moment who will graduate in January as it takes a few moments for training, but it’s still not enough as a lot of people are retiring this year. Then even if we hire 50 new people we’re still playing catch-up even if we recruit a whole class,” he explained.
Mr McGill praised the great work of his fellow firefighters throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Around 100 firefighters in Dublin had Covid but they’ve all made full recoveries. The Covid-19 pandemic slowed things down and the firefighters at Dublin Fire Brigade really stepped up to the plate,” he said.
Meanwhile Sinn Fein Cllr Daithí Doolan said that the crisis is deepening amid concerns over fires caused by the heatwave this week.
“Dublin Fire Brigade were forced to take fire engines off the road and this is further evidence of the deepening crisis within Dublin’s fire service.
Last week SIPTU revealed that fire stations across Dublin had staffing shortages and were not fulling functioning,” said Cllr Doolan.
Cllr Doolan said that he is seeking immediate action to resolve the crisis and he has contacted Dublin City Council’s Chief Executive.
“Dublin cannot be faced with a partially functioning fire service. It is deadly dangerous and puts the lives of the public at risk,” he concluded.
Dublin City Council declined to provide a statement on the matter.