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Concerns raised over "vetting" of calls to fire service

The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association said it is concerned that some calls are not being answered rapidly enough due to vetting.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE IRISH FIRE and Emergency Services Association, IFESA, has raised concerns about the ‘vetting’ of calls to the fire service and its impact on members of the public.

IFESA said that it believes there is “growing evidence” that a “more rigid interpretation” of vetting of emergency calls is denying more and more basic fire and rescue services to the public and local communities.

It said these mainly apply to retained or part-time local fire brigades in rural communities.

Ros Mac Cobb, National Vice Chairman of IFESA, said:

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. There is growing evidence that management are using ‘Call Vetting’ to limit expenditure 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.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, he explained that when a call comes in to the 999 emergency number from a member of the public seeking a fire brigade, this is sent on to the fire service control room, where the information from the caller is logged and inputted.

He said that the senior fire officer in the part of the country where the caller’s local fire service is would make the final decision on how the call should be responded to, depending on the level of the emergency.

Emergency

The IFESA’s concerns relate to whether calls are not being answered rapidly enough. Mac Cobb said the decision is based on what the person who phones 999 says.

At times when people make a 999 call they are under pressure. To them it is an emergency. The information may not be fully factual; they may have forgotten to give some information.

He added:

A delay in response can cost lives and can increase the suffering of a person.

IFESA also highlighted its concerns about recent consultation documents released by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management.

IFESA members said they “are fearful of further cuts and station closures as budgets are squeezed further”.

Abolishment

The IFESA is calling for the abolishment of call vetting, and asking that all calls be responded to by the fire service.

IFESA is determined to fight these cuts and protect the public’s right to a properly funded and resourced fire service in every community.

Read: Dublin City Council to charge for fire brigade callouts>

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