The Irish Fire Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has today (Wednesday 18th Jan.) called for the withdrawal of new Breathing Apparatus sets after three more serious unexplained incidents involving the new sets in a 12 hour period. This now brings to 8 potential catastrophic events that have the potential to seriously injury or kill a fire f ighter.
Des Kavanagh, General Secreta ry of the PNA, representing IFESA said comments by Mr Gerry Geraghty, of Dublin City Council on RTE last week that the issues with the new breathing apparatus sets had been resolved were clearly untrue, given that there is ongoing problems with these sets that could pose a serious threat to life of the fire fighters and also to the citizens they serve. Mr. Kavanagh said:
‘On Monday, January 16 th three further Breathing Apparatus set failed, just days after Mr. Gerry Geraghty, Dublin City Council, assured Joe Duffy on RTE Radio that the problem had been sorted.
On Monday morning a class of new recruits were being familiarised with breathing apparatus sets in a routine exercise when one was noted not to be operating in a correct manner this affected the airflow. An Instruct or immediately intervened. The s et was impounded.
A second incident arose later on Monday night when a fire fighter fighting a domestic fire in Tallaght experienced insufficient air flow, causing the mask to collapse onto his face. The fire fighters had to immediately evacuate themselves from the building.
Again on Monday night, during start of shift testing a set developed an unexplainable loss of pressure that developed into a leak.This was the Third incident in 12 hours.
No matter i f these incidents had been in a small bedroom, house, factory, warehouse or underground car park fire the fire fighters potentially could have been in very serious danger. Yet Dublin City Council insisted through their spokesman, Mr. Gerry Geraghty that the problem had been resolved, e ven though up to 60 sets have been taken out of operational use due to low level and unexpl ained failures, 20% of the set s in use in Dublin are now unserviceable with some fire engines carrying reduced sets numbers on board.
‘If this situation wasn't so serious it could be described as farcical. Dublin City Council need to focus on their duty of care to their staff and sort out this problem before a more serious incident occurs. Blaming the messenger instead of listening to the message will be of no benefit if a fire fighter is seriously injured or killed. We are highlighting real events, real failures and real threats to the safety of fire fighters and the citizens of Dublin. We will not be dismissed by the type of comments indulged in by Mr. Geraghty.'
Many fire fighters are now seeking access to the old sets where they are available because they have lost confidence in the new breathing apparatus sets .'
Des Kavanagh concluded : ‘We are now repeating our call that these breathing apparatus sets be withdrawn until there has been a complete, and preferably independent scientific and analytical , investigation into these unexplained problems that have occurred on 8 occasions to date with a full risk assessment being conducted. Dublin City Council mu st convince their fire f ighters that they can have confidence in their brea thing equipment. Right now the fire f ighters and their families have serious concerns for their safety and that of the citizens they serve. If the Council do not address this serious issue immediately they must take full responsibility for the consequences of their inaction'.
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