The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has described (Dec 9 th . ) comments by a senior Galway County Council official as deeply insulting to fire fighters and extremely worrying for rural communities throughout the county.

IFESA National Chairman, John Kidd said the comments in the Tuam Herald (Doubts Over New Fire Stations) by Director of Services, Eugene Cummins were an insult to the dedication and professionalism of fire-fighters in the county who are struggling to provide services in the face of cutbacks and cost saving across the fire services. He said Mr Cummins's comments showed a total lack of regard for the concerns of communities across Galway who are being left without adequate fire service cover.

‘In his offensive comments Mr Cummins advised the public that buying a €20 smoke alarm might be more effective that investing in proper emergency fire services. His further comment that ‘ a fire alarm will save a life , a fire brigade won't.' displays a total disregard for the work of professional fire fighters and the dangers that communities face because of inadequate investment in providing services'.

‘Unfortunately, Mr Cummins' comments are just another example of the ‘cutback mentality' that is being adopted by local authorities across the country with regard to fire services. In October the consequences of these cutbacks where highlighted when Wicklow County Council was convicted of health and safety violations relating to a warehouse blaze in which two fire-fighters died in Bray in 2007. We are also seeing examples daily of where the policy of ‘Call Vetting' is being used to decide which emergency calls are being responded to and which are not.'

‘Mr Cummins' comparison of the fire services with the insurance industry is testament to the fact that Galway County Council now see emergency services being provided on the basis of the level of risk involved not as an entitlement to the public for safe and properly resourced fire and ambulance services.'

Note : IFESA is affiliated to the Psychiatric Nurses Association

Media Contacts : John Kidd 087-6588999/ Derek Cunningham 086-2430535