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Dublin: 8°C Saturday 24 October 2020

Firefighters call for withdrawal of 'potentially dangerous' breathing gear

A union said firefighers’ lives could be in danger, and many were trying to use old equipment rather than controversial new sets.

One of the sets in question, with ice visible on air tubing
One of the sets in question, with ice visible on air tubing
Image: IFESA

A UNION REPRESENTING firefighters has called for the immediate withdrawal of newly introduced breathing apparatus, saying that its members’ lives are in danger after several “serious unexplained incidents”.

The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association said the breathing sets, which were introduced to replace outdated apparatus in Dublin late last year, had failed three times over a 12-hour period.

One firefighter was forced to evacuate a burning home in Tallaght after his mask collapsed onto his face due to lack of air, the union said. The other two incidents took place during training and equipment testing the same night last Monday.

In a statement, IFESA said such failures “have the potential to seriously injure or kill a firefighter”.

Union spokesperson Des Kavanagh  said that 20 per cent of sets in Dublin are now “unserviceable”, and 60 have been taken out of use. “Many fire fighters are now seeking access to the old sets where they are available because they have lost confidence in the new breathing apparatus sets,” he said.

Right now the fire fighters and their families have serious concerns for their safety and that of the citizens they serve. If the Council do not address this serious issue immediately they must take full responsibility for the consequences of their inaction.

The latest alleged incidents come almost two weeks after firefighters initially raised concerns, citing a string of potentially dangerous failures. TheJournal.ie has seen pictures of ice forming on the sets during testing, which the union believes could cause problems with air flow.

However, Dublin City Council spokesperson Gerry Geraghty told RTÉ’s Liveline last Friday that the matter of breathing apparatus had “been resolved”. He said concerns were “hyped up” by interested parties seeking to win recognition.

Dublin Fire Brigade currently does not recognise IFESA as an official union. It says that only Siptu and Impact have negotiating rights with management.

Dublin Fire Brigade had no comment on the matter this afternoon. The Health and Safety Authority has previously confirmed that it has received correspondence from IFESA and the matter is “under active consideration”.

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

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Michael Freeman

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