Hundreds of calls to fire services

Thu, Nov 1, 2012, 00:00

Fire services throughout the country dealt with hundreds of incidents overnight, including out-of-control bonfires and injuries from fireworks lit to mark Halloween.

This morning a spokesman at the Tara Street control centre said fire services received 560 calls in Dublin and attended 184 incidents. The number of calls and incidents was “about average” for Halloween, he said.

The Garda press office, meanwhile, could not confirm the number of calls received by Garda stations, but said there were “no serious incidents” to report about Halloween.

Dublin ambulance crews attended 174 incidents and received 520 calls. In the wider Leinster area the Tara Street control centre received 548 calls and attended 137 incidents.

Cars were burnt out in the Tallaght area but also in Louth and Longford and in some of the other counties monitored by Tara Street fire station. Car burnings were in "the double digits" over Dublin and the 11 counties monitored by Tara Street, the fire service said.

A 12 year old boy was taken to Tallaght hospital after he sustained second degree burns to his face, neck and hands when a firework exploded.

Beaumont Hospital was put on standby after a man in his 20s suffered head injuries after he was attacked at Northside Shopping Centre in Coolock.

A bonfire at Knockmitten reported after 8pm affected visibility on the M50 at Junction 9 (Red Cow), adding to delays at Junction 7 (Lucan).

An ambulance was stoned by a group of youths as paramedics returned to Beaumont Hospital with a patient, while another emergency service vehicle was stoned in Tallaght.

Greg O’Dwyer, Third Officer the Dublin Fire Brigade, said “it was the usual busy Halloween nights that we’ve come to expect” which included a number of incidents “where cars were driven into bonfires.”

Mr O’Dwyer said revellers drove cars into bonfires in Finglas, Ballyfermot and Tallaght. This practice was “very common a couple of years ago” but had “died off a bit” in recent years.

Commonly, he said, “a few lads would get together and put in €10 or €50” to buy a very cheap car which was due to be scrapped. The youths would then joyride this “company car” before abandoning it, burning it out, or, frequently at Halloween, driving it into a bonfire.

Mr O’Dwyer said this practice almost “completely died off” following the introduction of the Government scrappage scheme in 2009, which offered people trading in a vehicle aged 10 years or over a discount of up to €1,500 on a new model.

The scheme came to an end in 2011 and since then, Mr O’Dwyer said, the fire brigade has noticed an increase in the number of car fires.

Elsewhere across the country, stations in Cork, Galway and Limerick reported that while there was a good volume of phone calls, there were no major incidents.

Fire services in Munster attended 96 incidents - mostly "bonfires, vehicle fires, and skip fires," according to a spokeswoman - and received 165 calls.

In Connacht, fire services had a “very quiet” night, attending just 14 bonfires, a “not untypical” number, according to a spokesman. He said fire services in the province tend to be busier on June 23rd, St John’s night, the traditional bonfire evening in the west.

Throughout the week, councils had been asking people to report stockpiling of materials for bonfires ahead of last night’s festivities.

Gardaí said there were “adequate” policing plans in place to deal with Halloween festivities last night.

The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) received 183 calls and attended 133 incidents across the North, the lowest figure recorded for 31st October since 1989.

The majority of the incidents involved rubbish, bonfires and flaming tyres left on roadways.

According to a statement "fire Crews were attacked during 5 isolated incidents, mostly from youths throwing stones or fireworks. Thankfully there were no injuries to NIFRS personnel or damage caused to appliances."