Bray Fire Service options discussed
THE feasibility of having a full-time service at Bray Fire Station rather than the current retained service was discussed at length at Wicklow County Council on Monday.
Wicklow Fire Chief Aidan Dempsey presented a comprehensive report to members outlining the possibilities for the Fire Service in North Wicklow in terms of efficiency and cost effectiveness.
Mr Dempsey outlined that the advantages of moving to a full-time service in Bray would see a five minute decrease in response times which would see 90 per cent of incidents responded to in ten minutes or less, increased scope for community fire safety initiatives, availability of crews for maintenance, pre incident planning and increased water hydrant checks.
He also explored the option of amalgamating Bray and Greystones stations but said that this would again impact on response times as per a new location.
A draft plan in terms of Wicklow Fire Service is to be prepared for the members by the first quarter of 2015 which must be in line with similar plans on a national scale.
A pilot project will also commence next year to identify the members of the public most vulnerable in terms of fire safety and will take in high risk areas and areas wheres serious incidents have occurred in the past.
Mr Dempsey explained that currently a population of 28,531 is covered by fire stations in Bray with a breakdown of 50 people per square kilometre and that at present an average of 273 incidents take place every year which represented a 26 per cent reduction.
Cllr Derek Mitchell expressed the view that council members, in his opinion are not qualified to assess the balance between safety and efficiency and cited the national debate about whether five or six crew members are required for the first fire unit on any callout.
He also voiced opposition to any changes to the Greystones service which he said was working well.
Cllr John Ryan cited the need for a National Fire Authority which he said was required to oversee each county service.
He also queried the main causes of fires in the county and asked how many houses have fire alarms if a breakdown was available.
Mr Dempsey said that around 30 per cent of fires in Wicklow are of a ‘serious nature’ and said that in the region of 75 per cent of homes have alarms fitted.
He added that the remaining 25 per cent experience the majority of fires and encouraged members to see if additional funding is available in the 2015 budget to roll out a fire alarm scheme across the county.
The importance of putting proposals for the service out to public consultation was stressed by Cllr Joe Behan who said that the people should be asked for their views.
‘If any of us lost a loved one we would feel that no money is too much. What value will we put on life,’ he said.
Cllr Vincent Blake who asked what impact that changes in Bray would have on smaller stations was assured that training standards would not drop.
Bray Fire Station