Another important function of the Fire Authority is to ensure the fire safety of the built environment through certification, inspection and enforcement. The Authority also provides information and training on fire safety management and fire fighting.
In order to provide this service in an efficient manner throughout the county there are Fire Brigade Stations in Sligo, Ballymote, Tubbercurry and Enniscrone. These Brigades attended over 760 incidents in the last year. This reflects the continued expansion of our commercial and residential building stock and the increase in traffic using our road network.
There were several large commercial fires this year, again emphasising the need for an efficient and effective fire service and the need for preventative measures. There has been an increase in car fires and fires caused by arsonists. These pose a serious threat to life and property and there can also be a substantial and economic cost arising from these incidents.
People must remain vigilant in the home, as this is where our most life threatening fires occur each year. The loss caused by these incidents is enormous, tragically three persons died as a result of such fires in 2003.
The fire authority attended numerous other “special services” incidents that resulted in four fatalities and emphasises the multi functionary role of the service provided.
There is a very strict training regime in the Fire Service necessitated by the difficult and dangerous environment in which Firefighters work. Firefighters undergo over one hundred hours training every year, this includes the latest advances in techniques used to tackle the fires known as “flashover” and “backdraft” and the latest methods of removing casualties safely from crashed vehicles. This is particularly important in view of the advances in active safety technology employed in the modern car; airbags and seatbelt tensioning do save lives when an accident occurs but can pose a serious threat to rescue personnel. The Brigade now holds “block” R.T.A. (Road Traffic Accidents) training over a number of days, in which the necessary skills are acquired and practised.
Sligo is now a “hot fire” training centre and offers this facility nationally for the training of Firefighters throughout the country. This facility is used to demonstrate and train Firefighters in the latest techniques and equipment necessary for their protection and the saving of life. The fire service now has 16 nationally qualified medical first responders among its staff.
The Breathing Apparatus training centre has been used as a national training centre following modernisation and the installation of a “gas fire system”, this is used to train staff in proper search and rescue techniques and in the use of Breathing Apparatus in fire situations.
Local industries have also facilitated the Brigade in carrying out Pre-Fire Training in which various types of incidents are staged and training undertaken; should a similar incident occur the Brigade will have the necessary skills and resources needed to deal with it in an efficient and professional manner.
Talks were given to the elderly and other groups on fire safety during 2003. Groups of primary school students visited the stations and watched fire safety videos and demonstrations, in all approximately 600 students visited the station.
Groups from secondary schools, Sligo Institute of Technology and the local community also participated in courses held in the Fire Station.
These courses reinforce the need for vigilance when it comes to fire safety and brings this massage back to their homes, schools and workplaces.
The Fire Authority processed over 170 Fire Safety Certificate applications as required under Building Control Legislation and dealt with in excess of 200 planning applications under the Planning Acts. These applications covered a wide range of premises from apartment blocks, hotels, and shops to large commercial developments.
Inspections were carried out under the various Licensing legislation covering nearly every type of premises from petroleum stores to dance licences. The Fire Authority made comment on all transfer of licences before the courts and carried out numerous during performance inspections of dance halls, public houses and workplaces to ensure the Fire Safety Standards were being upheld. Generally the level of co-operation received when advice is given is very good.
In the last number of years, the ageing Fire Engines in Enniscrone, Tubbercurry, Ballymote and Sligo have been replaced with new models. The Emergency Tender in Sligo is in its 12th year of operational use with some of the equipment over 20 years old. It is intended to apply for funding from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for the replacement of this appliance in the near future.
The Refurbishment and Remount of the Hydraulic Platform based at Sligo Fire Station Head Quarters was a welcome addition and will provide the community with the very best equipment available.
Plans were submitted to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for the funding and upgrading of Sligo Fire Station in line with current requirements and this matter is being progressed, as is the provision of the new Fire Station in Ballymote.
The 24-hour Watchroom at Headquarters deals with all emergency calls for the Borough and County. The proposed Computer Aided Mobilisation Project (CAMP) is expected to be available in the near future. The professionalism of the Watchroom Personnel who deal with all emergency calls received ensures that incidents are dealt with in an efficient manner.