THE IRISH FIRE AND Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has called on the government to show greater urgency in bringing forward legislation to improve protection for fire and ambulance personnel from assault.
The call comes ahead of a particularly busy night for emergency workers and the association said it is more than likely that they will face injury and assault and vehicles will be damaged.
“Unfortunately, at this time of year we see a significant rise in attacks on fire, ambulance and Gardaí,” Ros MacCobb, IFESA National Vice Chairman said yesterday. “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.
MacCobb said the recent rejection by the government of a bill to impose mandatory prison sentences on people convicted of assault on emergency workers while on duty, was disappointing.
“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,” he added.
In rejecting the bill recently the government said it was awaiting the final report on mandatory sentencing from the law Reform Commission an the outcome of a strategic review of penal and sentencing policies.
Cobb urged the public this Halloween to support emergency workers and to take extra care in following guidelines particularly if illegal fireworks are being used and handled.
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