COUNTY FIRE STATIONS WERE MOBILISED ALMOST 1,800 TIMES IN 2018
BUSY YEAR AS FIRE SERVICE MOBILISED NEARLY 1,800 TIMES
WICKLOW County Fire Service stations were mobilised almost 1,800 times during 2018 – including a massive 800 times during the heatwave months of June, July and August.
Figures released by the fire service show that stations were mobilised 108 times in January to respond to a range of incidents.
Crews from around the county attended a number of incidents of fallen trees and debris on January 4, as the clean-up from Storm Eleanor got under way.
On January 14, crews from Bray and Greystones extricated a casualty from an overturned car, which had left the road and struck a wall and an ESB pole, while on January 19, crews from Greystones and Wicklow assisted at a road traffic collision (RTC) at Junction 11 of the the M11. On January 24, Dunlavin Fire Crew assisted Kildare Fire Service at an RTC at Battlemount, Ballitore.
The stations were mobilised 121 times during February.
There was a sad start to the month for the Dunlavin fire crew that attended a collision near Brannockstown in Co Kildare on February 1. A threeyear-old girl died in hospital days later as a result of injuries suffered in the crash.
On February 5, crews from Greystones and Bray attended an RTC at Killincarrig, Greystones, where a car had struck a wall. The crews removed the side of the car to allow the ambulance service to extricate a casualty.
Five days later, fire crews from Greystones and Wicklow Town attended a two-vehicle RTC at Lott Lane, Kilcoole, where they assisted with the removal of a casualty from a jeep that had crashed through a wall and into a garden.
On February 16, fire crews from Arklow and Wicklow town assisted the ambulance service after a teenage boy was struck and trapped by a car.
On February 21, crews from Bray, Greystones and Wicklow town fought a fire in an office building in the Southern Cross Business Park, Bray. The fire was well established when crews arrived and the building, which was home to HomeLink, Easi-Cab Travel Club and Outpost Studios, was unsafe to enter for most of the operation.
On the last day of February, as Storm Emma and the Beast of the East took hold, crews from Wicklow town and Rathdrum attended a two-vehicle RTC in Tomdarragh, Roundwood, after the forecast snow began to fall. The side of a car was removed in order to extricate a female casualty.
The impact of these storms continued into the following month and Wicklow town fire crew attended serious coastal flooding in the Strand Street area of the town on March 2.
March saw stations mobilised 106 times, including on March 11 when crews from Arklow and Wicklow town attended an extensive fire at Leon Recycling in the Croghan Industrial Estate, Arklow.
On March 14, fire crews from Bray and Greystones attended a RTC on the Enniskerry road which resulted in car on its roof, while, the same day, crews were also called to a number of incidents linked to a yellow weather warning for heavy rain. Crews from Bray attended serious flooding at the Egan Centre in the town and in Kilmacanogue while Rathdrum firefighters attended to serious flooding in Ballinaclash, Laragh and Avoca. In Avoca, the occupants of a vehicle found themselves trapped by flood waters.
On March 15, crews from Carnew and Tinahely attended a serious house fire on the Gorey Road in Carnew and, three days later, crews from Wicklow and Rathdrum attended a serious RTC on the M11, which resulted in a car lying on its side with one person trapped.
On March 21, teams from Bray and Greystones attended an RTC at Fassaroe in Bray where a concrete mixer truck turned over on its side.
April proved to be a quieter month for the fire service, with stations mobilised 73 times.
Among the incidents responded to was a single car RTC at Knockmore, Money Little, on April 19, which a crew from Arklow attended, and a caravan fire at Redcross on April 21, which a Wicklow town crew responded to.
Also on April 21, a crew from Greystones assisted the Coast Guard and National Ambulance Service to carry a injured person to the helicopter Rescue 116 near the railway line at Rathcoole.
Things picked up again in May, when stations were mobilised 92 times.
On May 2, crews from Greystones and Wicklow town attended an extensive workshop fire at Glendarragh farm. The fire was extinguished and a casualty was treated for smoke inhalation.
Three days later, teams from Wicklow town and Rathdrum attended a light aircraft incident, where the plane had made an emergency landing in a field near Rathnew. The plane was undamaged and the pilot uninjured.
On May 17, crews from Wicklow town and Rathdrum attended an RTC at Ballinastoe Cross Roads involving a car, a bus and a motorcycle. The same day, crews from four stations (Bray, Greystones, Wicklow town and Rathdrum) fought a series of gorse fires in the Rocky Valley area of Kilmacanogue for 14 hours, preventing the fires spreading to houses in the area.
On May 18, teams from Bray and Greystones fought a fire in an electrical sub-station at Bray Railway Station. The damage caused by the fire disrupted rail services for the following week.
Stations were mobilised 234 times in June as the country experienced a heatwave and fire service activity was dominated by a high volume of gorse fires.
There were 125 gorse fires where a single fire engine was mobilised but there were a further ten incidents where multiple stations were mobilised and support was received from Air Corps and Coillte helicopters.
While those fires put great demands on the fire service, crews were also called to a number of serious road accidents during the month.
On June 10, a Greystones team attended an RTC involving a motorbike which hit a deer at Annamoe. At 3 a.m. on June 16, Carnew and Tinahely crews attended a two-car RTC and assisted ambulance crews to care for and move casualties.
On June 23, crews from Wicklow town and Greystones attended a serious single vehicle RTC at Coynes Cross in which a car flipped onto its roof at the motorway slip road. The same day, Arklow and Rathdrum
crews attended a another serious RTC, where a car flipped onto its roof on the Vale Road.
The heatwave continued throughout July and, with fire service activity again dominated by a high volume of gorse fire, stations were mobilised 283 times.
The fires on Bray Head in the middle of the month became national news as they caused disruption to the railway, closed the cliff walk and came dangerously close to people’s homes.
There was a multi-agency response when a serious forest fire broke out in Glenmalure on July 3. Fire crews from Dunlavin and Tinahely fought the fire on the ground with assistance from Coillte staff, while the Air Corp helicopter and a private helicopter fought the fire from the air. Additional fire officers were used to relay radio messages in and out of the valley.
On July 5, crews from Bray, Greystones, Rathdrum and Blessington alternated at a large gorse fire at the Sally Gap. Crews were rested and neighbouring crews were not committed simultaneously at this remote location as they battled the blaze.
From July 13, teams from Greystones, Bray and Rathdrum fought gorse fires for four days with the assistance of the Air Corps. Crews returned on a near daily basis for the remainder of the month to monitor and extinguish where re-ignition occured.
After a summer characterised by an exceptionally high volume of gorse fires statistics indicate a trend towards expected statistics. The number of gorse fires was still high throughout August – a carry-over from the summer that was reflected in other counties and in the UK – and stations were mobilised a total of 283 times.
In addition to these gorse fires, crews attended to a range of other call-outs, including a number of RTCs.
On August 10, teams from Greystones and Wicklow town attended an RTC in which a vehicle had left the road on the R772 near Ashford and, on August 13, crews from Greystones and Bray attended an RTC involving an overturned car on the N11 near Drummin.
Over in west Wicklow, a crew from Blessington, supported by Naas, attended an RTC where a vehicle had left the road down an embankment on August 22.
On August 25, a team from Blessington, again supported by Naas, attended a serious RTC involving multiple vehicles – one of which ignited – on the N81 near Hollywood. The following day, crews from Dunlavin and Blessington attended an RTC involving an overturned car on the R756 near Valleymount.
September proved to be a much quieter month, with the stations mobilised 121 times. The month was characterised by small bonfires/outdoor fires (29 per cent), gorse/forest fires (26 per cent), alarm activations (eight per cent), car fires (seven per cent) and assisting the ambulance service (five per cent). Serious incidents included RTCs (eight per cent) and domestic fires (six per cent).
The small outdoors fires were generally malicious while the gorse fires were also suspicious, according to the fire service. During the month, fire crews removed combustible material, Gardaí put on extra patrols and Bray Municipal District did a general area clean-up.
On September 2, Blessington and Dunlavin crews attended an RTC where a single occupant was trapped in a van that had left the road near Manor Kilbride.
Bray and Greystones crews attended an RTC on the Scalp Road where a car had struck a wall on September 8 while, on September 14, Arklow firefighters were called to assist at the scene of a single car RTC on the Vale Road, where a car had overturned with two occupants inside.
On September 24, a Blessington crew, supported by crew from Naas, attended a smouldering fire in a shed at The Glen, Burgage More, and, on September 27, teams from Arklow and Rathdrum attended a fire in a garage at Kilcarra East, Arklow.
Stations were mobilised 169 times during the month of October. Sadly, crews responded to two fatal incidents: the death of a woman in a house fire in Bray and an RTC in the Glen of Imaal.
The month was characterised by bonfires and malicious outdoor fires, mainly in Bray, Greystones and Wicklow town, which made up half of the month’s activity. Annually, October is associated with many fires in open areas in the run up to Hallowe’en. In addition, there was a considerable amount of outdoor fires in rural areas, particularly on the Sugarloaf and in the Calary/Ballyremon areas, according to the fire service.
On October 3, burning gorse on the Sugarloaf trapped walkers above the fire, who could not find a way off the mountain. Two fire crews and mountain rescue services were mobilised to assist.
The following day, Arklow and Wicklow town crews were mobilised to a blaze at Blainroe, where a garage and the vehicles inside were on fire.
On October 5, Bray and Greystones crews attended a fire at the Brady Centre on Seapoint Road, Bray – home of Lakers – at 2 a.m. There was extensive damage to the building and to the vehicles inside.
Baltinglass and Dunlavin fire crews responded to two serious incidents on October 21. The crews were alerted to a fatal RTC at Davidstown in the Glen of Imaal, Donard, which involved one male fatality, and also responded to an apartment fire at The Mill in Baltinglass.
Supported by Hacketstown, the teams evacuated the apartment block and brought one casualty from the building. The fire was contained to the room of origin and extinguished. One room was badly damaged and one apartment badly smoke damaged but all other residents were able to return to the building the same day.
On October 24, Bray and Greystones fire crews responded to a fatal fire at Esmonde Terrace in Bray, at which a woman was found deceased.
Stations were mobilised 94 times in November, although these sadly included two fatal incidents: the discovery of a young woman’s body in Bray and the death of a young man in a motorcycle RTC in Coolboy, between Carnew and Tinahely.
RTCs have an automatic response of two fire stations and these incident types results in 25 per cent of responses. Heavy rains during the month resulted in five mobilisations to flooding incidents.
Nuisance outdoor fires were responsible for 18 per cent of call-outs, automatic fire and carbon monoxide alarms were responsible for 18 per cent of call-outs, although no fire was discovered at these incidents.
On November 6, Bray and Greystones crews responded to an RTC on the N11 at Kilmacanogue involving two cars and a motorbike. Two casualties had to be extracted from a vehicle.
Bray crews were called to assist the ambulance service by the Presentation College on Putland Road in the early hours of the morning of November 8, where a young woman had passed away.
On November 9, teams from Bray and Greystones attended a single car RTC at the Glen of the Downs where a car had left the road and a casualty had to be removed.
With stations mobilised 96 times in December, call numbers are consistent with the previous month, but down slightly on 2017 (nine per cent) mainly due to a reduction in RTCs.
Domestic fires increased on the previous month representing 14 per cent of resources mobilised. Nuisance outdoor fires were responsible for 13 per cent of call-outs, automatic fire and carbon monoxide alarms were also responsible for 15 per cent of call-outs. No fire was discovered at these incidents.
On December 1, teams from Bray and Greystones responded to an RTC in the Glen of the Downs in which a vehicle had overturned into a stream. Water rescue techniques were used to rescue casualties.
Carnew and Tinahely crews, supported by Bunclody, attended a serious RTC at Ballingate involving an overturned car on December 8 and, the following day, crews from Wicklow and Rathdrum dealt with an overturned car at Deputy’s Pass.
On December 11, there was a serious RTC on the R761 outside Bray Golf Club involving a car and a lorry. A difficult extraction was performed by crews from Bray and Greystones.
Heavy rain on December 15 contributed to a three-car RTC on the M11 at junction 11, including one overturned car. This incident was attended by Bray and Greystones crews.
In addition to responding to calls, Wicklow County Fire Service also carried out further training and introduced new equipment during the year.
In January, the fire service developed the national training standard for Confined Space Rescue and ran pilot courses.
In September, additional water rescue capabilities were introduced and the fire service took delivery of a new confined space training rig. The following month, firefighters took part in a confined space rescue excercise in conjunction with the ESB at Poulaphouca.
In December, Wicklow County Fire Service introduced mud and ice rescue equipment and training.
Wicklow has ten fire stations located at Arklow, Baltinglass, Blessington, Bray, Carnew, Dunlavin, Greystones, Rathdrum, Tinahely and Wicklow town.
Fire crews battling a large fire in the Sally Gap during the height of the heatwave in July. The fire at Leon Recycling in Arklow in March. Fire gutted the Lakers premises at the Brady Centre in October. The fires on Bray Head in July that threatened homes and made national headlines.INSET: A Greystones fire fighter carrying empty extinguishers up Bray Head during the blaze.
Fire crews battling the fire that destroyed the building housing Homelink, Easi-Cabs and Outpost Studios at Southern Cross Business Park in Bray in February.