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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 11 November, 2019
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Firefighters' lives at risk because of budget cutbacks - association

The Irish Fire & Emergency Service Associations calls for a nationalised fire service, saying the current system puts lives at risk.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE ASSOCIATION REPRESENTING Irish fire and emergency services has warned that the lives of firefighters around the country are being put at risk because of a nationwide shortfall in funding.

The Irish Fire & Emergency Service Association (IFESA) has said the country’s fire services in Ireland are operating on a budget shortfall of €35m – with services in Dublin alone experiencing a shortfall of €5m.

Budgets for the country’s fire services are being hit as a result of cutbacks to local authority funding, and the service is worried that services will have to cut corners as a result of their depleted finances.

“Look across the water to the UK, where firefighter deaths from 1996 to 2002 were zero, and the implementation of so-called modernisation and new work practices in 2002 saw the death roll between 2002 and 2009 go to over twenty,” John Kidd of the IFESA said.

“This is what awaits Irish firefighters as local authorities try to implement ‘improvements’ to their services, just as UK services have done.”

IFESA warned local councillors that they were “playing with the lives of their electorate” by allowing budgets to be cut, and repeated its calls for the fire services to be nationalised.

“There are quantified measures that will save money for the Irish Fire Service, which will not require a cut to service provision – and will even improve service delivery – but vested interest groups… seem to be holding back these possibilities,” Kidd said.

A nationalised fire and ambulance service would provide a cost-effective system to offer live-saving treatment to those who need it, he added, calling on Labour to honour its 2007 calls for the creation a national fire service.

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Gavan Reilly

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