Labour urges setting up of national fire authority

A NATIONAL fire authority needs to be urgently established and full-time fire service introduced in areas of high population, the Labour Party said last night.

The deaths of part-time firefighters Mark O’Shaughnessy and Brian Murray in Bray, Co Wicklow, prompted a Dáil debate on the state of the country’s fire service and the Government’s failure to implement recommendations made in a 2002 report.

Cork South Central’s Ciarán Lynch, who tabled a private members’ motion on the fire service, said there was only one full-time service in Co Cork, despite it being the largest county in the country.

“There is only one full-time fire service which serves the city and immediate regions by agreement. The rest of the county, which includes rapidly growing towns like Mallow and Midleton, is dependent upon a retained service,” he said.

“Mayo, the second-largest county has no full-time fire service at all.”

Mr Lynch said the public was entitled to an explanation as to why the recommendations of the Farrell, Grant Sparks Review of Fire Safety and Fire Services in Ireland, submitted in January 2002, have yet to be implemented.

One of the key recommendations was the establishment of a National Authority for Fire and Civil Protection/Emergency Services.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley said there were differing views on the merits of a fire authority and this option was being reviewed.

“The Government must have regard to the needs of the fire service and the greater public interest. I am determined to consider all aspects in reaching my conclusions,” he said.

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