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Dublin firefighters using breathing equipment 'under protest' after failures

Dublin Fire Brigade has committed to analysing all 500 sets to check moisture levels and to cleanse the air cylinders.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

DUBLIN FIREFIGHTERS ARE currently using their breathing apparatus (BA) sets “under protest” following a request from the union SIPTU that the equipment be withdrawn and replaced.

The request came from the union after two set failures at an apartment block fire at Thomas Court, Dublin in January. One Dublin Fire Brigade member was forced to run out of the building from the second floor as he was unable to get any air from his cylinder.

Members of the representative group IFESA have since initiated legal action against Dublin City Council over the failures, to force the fire brigade to remove the sets from use pending a full investigation.

Catastrophic consequences

In a letter sent to Chief Fire Officer Patrick Fleming in January, seen by TheJournal.ie, the SIPTU organiser Brendan O’Brien said the Thomas Court incident “could potentially have had catastrophic consequences for the members of the public whose lives were dependent on the Brigade and for members responding to the call”.

The letter says members of the fire brigade are “lacking in confidence in the reliability and safety” of the equipment in light of these recent failures and previous similar incidents.

“Furthermore, we are requesting that all BA sets of this type are withdrawn and replaced with immediate effect, until such time as confidence can be rebuilt,” it continues.

Investigation

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, O’Brien said union representatives met this week with management Dublin Fire Brigade, who have been conducting an investigation into the set failures.

He said management told them they are satisfied that the sets are safe but they are now examining whether moisture got into some of the air cylinders. The brigade has now initiated an analysis of all 500 BA sets to assess the moisture content and clean the cylinders. This is expected to take between ten and 14 days.

Members need to be reassured that it’s safe. The position is that confidence has been shaken and if it’s safe then people need to show that.

“Obviously we’re concerned with the length of time this review his taken,” he said. “Our position now is that we’re awaiting the outcome of the investigation before making any definitive comment.”

He confirmed that members will continue to operate the equipment “under protest” until then.

Dublin Fire Brigade said it was “unable to respond due to the ongoing court proceedings”.

Read: Failed breathing apparatus forced firefighter out of apartment block blaze>

Read: Firefighter group brings council to court over failed breathing apparatus sets>

Read: Firefighters raise concerns after breathing equipment ‘collapses’>

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