By Eoin Kelleher
NORTH Tipperary’s Fire Service is recognised as one of the best in these islands and has suffered no reduction in the quality of its overall service despite claims from a Thurles Councillor, insisted management at this month’s meeting of the County Council.
Cllr Jim Ryan said he heard that under new rules, the county’s fire crews could no longer use chainsaws during emergencies to free people trapped in cars, and that a hydraulic lift deployed in larger fires was “lying idle” in Thurles. Cllr Ryan said his information was that crews had to call a council official who is trained in the use of chainsaws. It was also his understanding that Gardaí are now first on the scene to attend chimney fires to assess how serious they are, before contacting the Fire Service.
Cllr Ryan said the hydraulic platform lift had to be deployed all the way from Clonmel instead of Thurles during the major fire which damaged the Littleton Briquette factory before Christmas. Cllr Ryan questioned why Thurles’ lift was not used. And he said people calling the 999 number in relation to chimney fires are being re-directed to a call centre in Thurles.
Mayor Cllr Michael O’Meara said he wanted the message to go out that there are definitely no cutbacks to the Fire Service. On the contrary, “management is doing everything in its power to keep the Fire Service maintained.” County Manager Joe McGrath said he was very disappointed with Cllr Ryan’s remarks. “It’s extremely irresponsible. There’s no cutbacks. We spent E3.66m in providing for North Tipperary’s Fire Services. It’s one of only two fire services in the UK or Ireland to achieve a quality accreditation. We will not be taking any risks in relation to the Fire Service.” Cllr Ryan said he didn’t use the word “reduction” to describe the changes.
Full story in this week’s Tipperary Star.