Cork fire brigade units ‘too slow’

Nearly a quarter of fire brigade units in Co Cork are slower to mobilise than the national average time of six minutes.
Cork fire brigade units ‘too slow’

A five-year report, which focusses on improvements in the county-council-operated fire service showed that one of the county’s 21 stations was two minutes behind the national mobilisation average of six minutes.

The report, carried out by council officials, stated that, on average, it took the unit in Midleton 8.10 minutes to get its first tender out on an emergency call.

Mallow was the second slowest at 6.36 minutes, followed by Carrigaline at 6.17 minutes, Fermoy (6.09 minutes) and Kinsale (6.07 minutes).

The fastest response time was in Macroom, where the roll-out took an average of 3.59 minutes — less than half that of Midleton.

Stations in West Cork also showed faster than average mobilisation times: Schull (4.36 minutes), Bandon (4.33 minutes), Skibbereen (4.57 minutes) and Dunmanway (4.44 minutes).

The report stated that while the average national mobilisation time was six minutes, the set target is a minute faster.

Council chief executive Tim Lucey said the 81-page report formed the basis for improving fire services in the next few years. Senior fire officers are analysing response times and seeking the reasons for any delays to determine ‘what initiatives or changes would improve mobilisation times’.

The document said it accepted that in the case of retained brigades (part-time personnel) there might be factors outside the control of the council “which impinge or delay mobilisation times in some cases”.

Meanwhile, a table included in the report showed the percentage of incidents that each of the 21 fire stations attended within 10 minutes, 11 to 20 minutes, and in excess of 20 minutes.

The top three for attending within in 10 minutes were Youghal (86%), Cobh (84%) and Crosshaven (80%.)

The lowest percentages were achieved at Schull (35%), Bantry (36%), and Castletownbere (38%.)

Millstreet had the highest percentage for call-outs achieved in the 11-20 minutes category at 41%, followed in joint second by Castletownbere and Schull (both 39%), and then Macroom (33%).

However, stations in West Cork also had the highest percentage of response times of more than 20 minutes. Bantry was on 39%, Schull was 26%, and Castletownbere was 23%. The reason for this is that they have to serve peninsulas which are a good distance from their bases.

Mr Lucey said the council aims to increase the percentage of incidents attended within 10 minutes and to decrease the percentages in the other two categories.

He said all the trends will be monitored during the five-year lifetime of the plan, and areas where the response time is greater than 20 minutes will be considered for further action.

The draft plan on improving fire services was presented to councillors for their approval at a meeting in County Hall yesterday.

However, after Mr Lucey summarised its contents, Cllr Melissa Mullane (SF) urged that any vote on its adoption be suspended, because she claimed that unions representing firemen were unhappy with some of the proposals contained in it.

The plan was adopted after a short debate.

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