The Fire Authority provides a number of services ranging from the emergency response to incidents such as fires, road traffic accidents, air accidents, chemical incidents and more recently biological incidents, to ensuring 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 668 incidents in the last year.
There were several large complex 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 the cost can also result in the loss of jobs within the community.
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 four people died as a result of such fires.
The Fire Service attended numerous other “special services” incidents that resulted in four fatalities and emphasises the multi functionary role of the service provided.
There is a comprehensive training regime in the Fire Brigade as is necessitated by the sometimes difficult and dangerous environment in which fire-fighters work. Fire-fighters 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 extraction of casualties from vehicles involved in incidents. 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” road traffic accident training over a number of days, in which the necessary skills are learnt and practised.
Sligo is now a “hot fire” training centre and offers this facility nationally for the training of Fire-fighters throughout the country. This facility is used to demonstrate and train Fire-fighters 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. Various types of incidents are staged and training undertaken so that 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.
Sligo’s fire-fighters are certified users of Automatic Electronic Deliberators (AED) and attend refresher training every 90 days.
The Fire Authority also took part in a major emergency exercise at Sligo Airport alongside the Army, Civil Defence, CHC Ireland, Sligo General Hospital, Order of Malta, Ambulance Service, Mountain Rescue, A.A.I.U., R.N.L.I, Coastguard, S.A.F.R and the Gardaí. More of this kind of large scale exercises are planned for 2005 and this will increase communications/awareness between organisations.
Talks were given to the elderly and other groups on fire safety. Groups of primary school students visited the stations and watched fire safety videos and demonstrations. 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 message back to their homes, schools and workplaces.
The Fire Authority processed over 129 Fire Safety Certificate applications as required under Building Control Legislation and dealt with in excess of 154 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 laws and covered nearly every type of premises from petroleum stores to dance halls. The Fire Authority made comment on all transfer of licence applications before the courts and carried out numerous ‘during performance’ inspections of dance halls, public houses and workplaces to ensure that Fire Safety standards were being upheld. Generally the level of co-operation received when advice is given is very good.