Time to upgrade town's fire service, says officer's widow

The widow of one of two retained firefighters killed battling a blaze in an old factory appealed tonight for the Irish Government to upgrade the service to full-time status before more lives are lost.

The widow of one of two retained firefighters killed battling a blaze in an old factory appealed tonight for the Irish Government to upgrade the service to full-time status before more lives are lost.

Brian Murray, 46, and his colleague, Mark O’Shaughnessy, 26, died yesterday as they fought to bring the fire under control in Bray, Co Wicklow.

Thousands signed books of condolence today for the families of the two well-known local men, who were killed after the roof caved in on top of them.

Mr Murray’s wife, Mary, said tonight that the deaths highlighted long-standing calls for a permanent brigade in the town.

“This week there has been uproar about what has happened in Bray,” she said.

“Next week it will be forgotten. I want to know how many more will it take before we put a full-time service into Bray.

“How many more children, how many more people, how many more families are going to be left like this?” she asked.

Large numbers of people signed books of condolence in both Bray and Wicklow Town throughout the day, including Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

Tributes were led by President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Avid sports fan Mr Murray, from the Boghall area of the town, joined the service in early 1998 and worked as a sub-officer.

He was the second in command in the town’s fire brigade, in charge of 13 other part-time firefighters, who live in the area holding down other jobs but remain on call in case of emergencies.

Mr O’Shaughnessy, a single man from the town, had only joined the service two years ago.

Locals have long called for the upgrade to full-time of the town’s fire brigade, which covers an area with a population of more than 30,000 people.

The blaze broke out in the warehouse in Little Bray just after 10am yesterday and three fire crews from Bray and Greystones attended.

Within an hour the roof had collapsed and it took crews until 2pm to bring the blaze under control, but they remained on stand-by throughout the day amid fears that smouldering rubble could re-ignite. Several nearby homes were also evacuated.

Mrs Murray said she and her 15 children were devastated by their loss.

“It’s had an enormous impact on the family. It just doesn’t feel real. It just feels like he’s at work. It feels like he’s just in the station,” she told RTE News.

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