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1982 Papers reveal changes recommended to fire service in aftermath of Stardust disaster

The government said the capital’s fire service was not adequately equipped to meet “the needs of a modern fire brigade” at the time of the tragedy.

THE STARDUST DISASTER of 1981, which 48 people were killed and 214 injured, resulted in a raft of new recommendations for the capital’s fire service, newly released state papers show.

The Department of the Environment noted in the 1982 Report to the Tribunal that the capital’s fire service was not adequately equipped to meet “the needs of a modern fire brigade”, and recommended the replacement of fire fighting equipment which it said was “generally unsatisfactory”.

The communications system used by the brigade at the time was also labelled “outdated and inefficient”, while the brigade training programme was deemed as needing improvement.

A note relating to the Dublin Fire Service Review, one year after the fire, noted several areas for potential improvement:

  • Pre-fire planning, particularly in regard to areas of high fire risk, were deemed “less than adequate”. It was noted that pre-fire planning needed to be carried out on a regular basis, especially in reference to high-occupancy buildings or places that pose a special fire risk.
  • Provision of adequate water supplies in the Dublin Port area were needed, along with pre-fire planning consultation with the Port and Docks Board and various companies along Port area. The provision of adequate equipment to deal with fires in storage areas and aboard ships was marked as needing “urgent” consideration.
  • Arrangements for dealing with dangerous substances was “imperative” – with such substances as acrylonitrile, anhyrous ammonia, and methyl acrylate.

In February of 2012, the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association warned that improvements made since the Stardust tragedy could be negated by further cuts and lessening resources.

It claimed that three Government reports commissioned about the fire service over the past 30 years highlight improvements that are needed but that have never been implemented – and that the current system was put into place when Ireland was a very different country – largely agricultural with relatively small numbers living in towns and cities.

See National Archives, ref number 2012/90/922

Read: Fire services call for change 31 years on from Stardust tragedy>

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