Posted by: Administrator | February 3, 2011

UPDATE: CASTLEGREGORY FIRE SERVICE

A Chairde,
 
Here is the latest from KCC regarding the Fire Service.
I intend to meet the County Manager again about the matter this week.
 
Regards,
 
Brendan

*******************************************************

Our Ref: TC/LS/Fire Service Castlegregory

31st January, 2011

To: Cllr. M. O’Shea;

Cllr. B. Griffin;

Cllr. S. MacGearailt;

Cllr. M. Healy-Rae;

Cllr. T. Fleming;

Cllr. J. Sheahan

Re: Voluntary Fire Unit, Castlegregory

Dear Cllr,

I refer to our meeting of 20th January, 2011 at which you raised concerns

regarding the future of the Volunteer Fire Unit in Castlegregory, following a public

meeting in Castlegregory on the previous night.

I have reviewed the matter with Mr. Oliver Ring, Director of Service, Mr. Vincent

Hussey A/CFO and Mr. Tom Brosnan, Civil Defence Officer. Mr. Ring and

Mr. Brosnan also met the 9 volunteers in Castlegregory on 25th January, 2011 to

consider future options.

Castlegregory Fire Squad was established circa 1983 and operates from a small

fire house in Castlegregory. This building is owned by Kerry County Council and

all charges on the property are borne by Kerry County Council.

The Fire Squad consists of 8 or 9 volunteers from the local community. They

have been provided with a limited amount of training by the Fire Personnel of

Kerry County Council. This training would amount to 40-50 hours training per

annum which is less than half that provided to either the Civil Defence members

or the retained fire fighters in the Kerry Fire Service. The result is that Squad is

not trained to the levels required by modern standards to enable them to take on,

with confidence and safety, the fire fighting role they aspire to.

As a volunteer squad, they are not part of the Kerry Fire Service command

structure and, in fact, are not accountable to any organisation. They can

mobilise themselves to any incident as they see fit. While they are not part of

the 999 emergency call-out system, I understand that there have been cases

where they mobilised themselves to respond to 999 type calls including house

fires and commercial type fires.

There are serious issues here in relation to Health & Safety and responsibility in

the context of current Health & Safety legislation. As a volunteer unit, they do not

have the requisite training to attend certain incidents. They do not report to and

they are not under the control of the Council’s Fire Section. However, it could be

claimed that the Council has some responsibility for them given the training,

equipment and some funding provided by the Council in the past. This potentially

exposes individuals in Kerry County Council to criminal prosecution in the event

of an accident involving any of these volunteers in the course of responding to

an incident.

You will be no doubt aware of the consequences for certain Wicklow County

Council staff, arising from Garda and Health & Safety Authority investigations,

following the tragedy in Bray where two retained fire-fighters died while attending

a fire. These fire-fighters would have been fully trained and were operating under

a command and control operation.

It is for all these reasons that Kerry County Council has informed all the

Volunteer Fire Units that it cannot be associated with or take any responsibility

for them anymore and they have been advised that they should not mobilise for

any incidents.

It is clearly very desirable that the volunteerism and community spirit of the

Volunteer Units be retained for the benefit of their communities.

It has been suggested that one way to do this would be to set up a retained

brigade in Castlegregory. However this is not feasible, in present circumstances,

given the financial requirements to upgrade equipment and to pay training and

wages costs. Department funding for the capital elements would also be required

and this would not be considered in advance of the results of a forthcoming

national review of fire cover Risk Assessment. The adequacy of fire cover in the

Castlegregory/Brandon/Clahane area will form part of the Kerry review.

A number of proposals have been put to the members of the Castlegregory Unit:-

(a) That Kerry County Council would sever all links with the Unit, transfer

equipment etc. to them by legal agreement and they would continue to

operate as a private, independent unit. I understand that this option is not

acceptable to the volunteers.

(b) That the Unit would be incorporated into Civil Defence and the

volunteers would become part of the Civil Defence chain of command

structure.

Joining Civil Defence would have many advantages for the volunteers, including;

They would be part of a proper command and control structure and

would be the responsibility of Kerry County Council

They would receive structured quality fire training (more than double the

hours they currently train) – thirty existing C.D. members are trained to a

high standard in dealing with fires.

They would be covered by insurances etc. and would have upgraded

equipment

They could be trained in a variety of other roles and disciplines, including

advanced first aid, rescue, flooding control, etc.

They would be part of a county wide (140 members) and country wide

organisation of like-minded volunteers who also give freely of their time in

the service of their communities. The Civil Defence offers opportunities to

take part in regional and national exercises and competitions.

I understand that the Castlegregory Volunteers are now considering the option of

joining Civil Defence and I would strongly recommend that they would do so

because they would be able to continue to serve their community with confidence

and with higher levels of skills and training.

I look forward to your support in this matter.

Is mise le meas,

____________________________

T. Curran/T. Ó Curráin,

County Manager/Bainisteoir Contae

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