Firefighter shortage in Dublin puts public at risk, Siptu warns

Union says fire vehicles unavailable across city due to lack of trained staff

There are ‘an unprecedented number of retirements due and only 36 recruits to be employed this year’. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

There are ‘an unprecedented number of retirements due and only 36 recruits to be employed this year’. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The public is at serious risk from a shortage of firefighters in Dublin, trade union Siptu has maintained.

The union said on Friday that several vehicles across the city operated by Dublin Fire Brigade were unavailable for deployment due to a lack of trained firefighters.

Siptu Dublin Fire Brigade convenor Shane McGill, said: “Across the city Dublin Fire Brigade fire appliances and other vehicles are not available due to a lack of firefighters. The fire stations affected include Donnybrook, Dolphins Barn, Phibsborough, North Strand and Tara Street.”

“In the North Strand fire station a foam tender is also not available. Such an appliance is essential to responding to incidents in Dublin Port or in the Port Tunnel. The ambulance in Rathfarnham fire station is also out of service due to the staffing shortage.”

Mr McGill said the remaining vehicles in operation were understaffed in several stations including Donnybrook, Dolphins Barn, North Strand, Tara Street, Dún Laoghaire, Rathfarnham, Phibsborough and Tallaght.

“In addition to these issues Dún Laoghaire fire station had no officers on duty at 9am this morning meaning the only seven firefighters in the station were effectively unavailable for work.”

“Throughout the city, three district officers, who would oversee the response to an incident, were also not available today. The control room which takes emergency calls is also understaffed by five members.”

Deeply unsatisfactory

He said the “situation in the city today in terms of emergency response coverage was deeply unsatisfactory”.

He said this resulted in increased risks for firefighters due to a lack of support in emergency situations due to the shortage of personnel. He said it also increased the risks to the public due to vehicles having to come from farther away to respond to incidents.

Siptu sector organiser Brendan O’Brien said: “The current situation is a direct consequence of the senior management in Dublin City Council and Dublin Fire Brigade not having a proper plan in place for the recruitment of firefighters. Instead they are trying to force unions to agree to reduce the numbers of firefighters on fire appliances rather than recruit.”

He maintained the situation was “only going to get worse, with an unprecedented number of retirements due and only 36 recruits to be employed this year despite requests for more from the Dublin Fire Brigade management”.

“These 36 recruits will not be available until next January due to their training so will have no effect on shortfalls we expect on a daily basis for the rest of 2021. There is a panel of approximately 120 people open for recruitment, with the capacity for a recruit class of 54.”

Dublin City Council has been approached for comment.