Dublin firefighters ‘told to shut up’ over ‘shocking state’ of fire engines

Richard Boyd Barrett said whistleblowers approached him about the age of the fleet

‘Fire appliances that would not be on the roads anywhere else in Europe are used here and many of the fire appliances we are buying are second-hand,’ the Oireachtas committee was told. File photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

‘Fire appliances that would not be on the roads anywhere else in Europe are used here and many of the fire appliances we are buying are second-hand,’ the Oireachtas committee was told. File photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Dublin Fire Brigade’s fleet is “absolutely sub-standard” and constitutes a danger to the public, an Oireachtas committee has been told.

People before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government that as many as half the Dublin Fire Brigade fleet is too old for service and would not be put on the road by another fire service in Europe.

Mr Boyd Barrett said he had been visited by a delegation of Dublin firefighters last week who complained about the standard of equipment they were being forced to use.

Firefighters who raised issues about it had been “disciplined, intimidated and essentially told to shut up,” he told the committee.

“Fire appliance that would not be on the roads anywhere else in Europe are used here and many of the fire appliances we are buying are second-hand.”

He was told that a fire appliance under the age of six should be used for front line services and those older should only be used as back up for another five to six years, but after that they should be discontinued.

However, many appliances used by Dublin Fire Brigade were older than 12 years, he told the committee.

Mr Boyd Barrett said he had been shown “shocking” video footage of leaks coming out of the back of fire trucks, of sidelights not working and locks which spring loose from the side of tenders. “In one incident they told me they could have killed cyclists,” he said.

Mr Boyd Barrett referenced a Deloitte report which was published in February that criticised Dublin Fire Brigade’s procurement policies.

“If our fire equipment are seriously sub-standard, the best laid plans for emergency co-ordination could come badly unstuck,” he said.

New fire appliances

In response the national director for fire and emergency management Sean Hogan said Dublin Fire would have got six new fire appliances in the recent programmes to upgrade the fleet.

Mr Hogan told TDs and senators that the national steering group on major emergency management relied on the judgment of Dublin Fire Brigade and Dublin City Council about their needs for the fire service.

He told the committee that in the run up to the crash, a “very significant improvement” had been achieved in the fire fleet nationally. “We didn’t have the money to be buying on the scale we were buying, but we are back purchasing. All the things that we grand aid are subject to Government procedures.”

Mr Hogan also told the committee he was not personally in favour of a law which would make it mandatory for private sector employers to allow their workers stay at home in the event of a code red national emergency.

Socialist TD Mick Barry said widow Pamela Goss had lost her husband Fintan Goss who died during Storm Ophelia in October 2017 on his way home from work. A tree fell on his car.

He said Mrs Goss was convinced that her husband would still be alive if such a law was in place.

Mr Hogan said such a “command and control” approach to emergency management would not set the “right tone” for the country .

“I’m not sure that legislation would be of benefit. Our system which is integrated emergency management, is that you get communities responding in a way to the advice and the warnings,” he said.

“We have developed a system in which people react to information which is appropriate to themselves in a sensible way. I would not be in favour of laws that would enable people like myself to make a judgment to close workplaces.”