The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association said today (Friday, 11 th April) that the forthcoming local elections will be extremely important for the protection of local fire and emergency services into the future.

Speaking at the Annual Delegate Conference of IFESA in Tullow, Co Carlow today National Chairman John Kidd said local election candidates will have to clearly set out their policies for the future of local fire and emergency services which are under threat from cutbacks and rationalisation like never before.

‘The role of local councils in shaping the future of the fire and emergency services is probably one of the most important functions that local councillors have. At a time when county councils are being pressured to cut services under the Keeping Communities Safe Strategy it is vital that candidates in the upcoming local elections set out clearly where they stand on the future of the fire services in their area. Voters should be asking the hard questions on the doorsteps of these candidates. Do they support the Keep Community Safe Strategy which is template for cutting local fire services? Do they support reductions in staffing and the number of local fire stations? Do they believe that professional fire fighters should be replaced with a growing reliance on voluntary services?'

‘Local council candidates must understand that they have a duty to protect their communities and the future of local fire services is one of the key responsibilities in that regard. The dismantling of local fire and emergency services under the KCS Strategy, with staff losses and station closures will continue unless councillors take a stand and live up to the duty of care to their communities'.

Speaking at today's meeting, Des Kavanagh General Secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association to which IFESA is affiliated said IFESA had taken the lead in highlighting concerns about the malfunctioning of Breathing Apparatus (BA) sets which posed a threat to the lives of firefighters. He said IFESA is pursuing it legal challenge in the High Court regarding BA sets and he was calling on Dublin City Council to address this issue constructively and in consultation with those with significant expertise amongst the Fire Fighters.

‘ I also want to promise Dublin City Council that if any harm comes to any of our members as a result of BA Set Failure we will seek to have individual managers pursued under Section 80 of the Health and Safety Act 2005,' concluded Mr Kavanagh.

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