Council defends response of fire services

AT the March meeting of Edenderry Town Council members were circulated with a letter from the Director of Services Roads and Emergency Services, Frank Heslin giving details of the fire service’s response to a fire in the town in January.

AT the March meeting of Edenderry Town Council members were circulated with a letter from the Director of Services Roads and Emergency Services, Frank Heslin giving details of the fire service’s response to a fire in the town in January.

Councillors had expressed criticism at the February meeting to the response time of the fire services to a fire in the town on January 29. In his letter Mr Heslin explains, “On January 29 at 21.33 a serious house fire occurred at Fr Murphy Street. The Edenderry fire brigade arrived within seven minutes and two fire tenders attended.

“At 21.37 hours the fire service was alerted to a second fire at Greenwood Park. This was serviced by the Tullamore brigade who arrived at 22.15 hours. This was a chimney fire as distinct from the more seriously classified house fire which occurred in Fr Murphy St.

“Daingean Fire Station has been under-manned for some time and was therefore unable to mobilise an adequate response to call outs. This situation was unsustainable. The Council’s budget has been substantially reduced over the past few years. In the absence of adequate funds being provided to sustain the required manning level in 2011, Daingean station was regrettably closed in January.

“Edenderry is currently a two pump station. It had been proposed by the SOS-DBK action group that Edenderry be downgraded to a one pump station in order to divert funding to maintain Daingean fire brigade. We did not agree to this proposal as a town the size of Edenderry absolutely needs a two pump station.

“Other parties suggested reducing the roads budget to subsidise the funding of Daingean brigade. The consequences of such a proposal would have eliminated all routine maintenance on county roads and also eliminated all salting/gritting of roads in North Offaly. The Council exercised its responsibility to distribute the limited 2011 budget across all essential services and not the fire service alone.

“Unambiguous accountability and clear reporting are prerequisites in managing an effective emergency service. A robust operational plan for the fire service has now been adopted and resourced. For the first time in Offaly we now have a set of fire standards, which we are confident can be met having regard to health and safety requirements and available resources. I acknowledge the continuing contribution of our fire fighters.

“I emphasise that the Offaly Fire Service is available to advise individuals or groups on community fire safety and prevention.

“The Health Service Executive is currently the authority designated with responsibility for managing the ambulance service and accounting for that service is entirely a matter for the management of the Health Service Executive.”