Monday 15 December 2014

Wicklow County Council has passed a motion calling on the Government to provide the funding to establish a Full-time fire service in Bray

Wicklow County Council has passed a motion calling on the Government to provide the funding to establish a Full-time fire service in Bray. The motion was put forward by Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady at Monday's council meeting where a report on the provision of a Full-time fire service was presented by the Wicklow Chief Fire Officer.

Speaking after the meeting Councillor Brady said "At Mondays meeting a report was given to the council outlining issues relating to the provision of a Full-time fire service in Bray and North Wicklow. I have always believed there is a l need for a Full-time service in Bray and that is backed up by the unfortunate number of fatalities the community of a Bray has experienced due to fires, many of which I believe could have been saved if we had a Full- time service. A lack of funding has always been one of the biggest issues in implementing this service. At the meeting I put forward a motion calling on the Government to give financial assistance to the council to enable it to provide a Full-time service, thankfully this was unanimously supported".

Cllr Brady continued "Unfortunately the report that was presented to the council was in my opinion a flawed one as it didn't take into account all the risks within the town and therefore given a risk designation which is lower than it should be. The large number of nursing homes located within Bray appears to have been overlooked as a risk. The report also failed to take into account the planned expansion of the town with the development of up to 7500 housing units proposed on the Old Fassaroe lands and planning granted for 1200 units on the Old Bray Golf Club lands. The increase in population would greatly increase the risks within the town and the report is not future proofed. If these factors were included it would strengthen the case to the Government for funding".

Brady continued "I've been consistent in my view that the best way to provide a full time service in Bray would be the creation of a National Fire Authority, which was one of the key recommendations in a report carried out in 2002 by Farrell Grant Sparks. This would see the operation and funding of the fire service removed from local authorities and resources deployed on a risk basis. In the report presented to the council on Monday the cost of providing the service in Bray would be €3,350,000 for two full time crews".

The Sinn Fèin councillor and long-time campaigner for improvements in the fire service went onto say "There is no way Wicklow County Council can find €3,350,000 from within its current level of funding without cutting services to other frontline services. In 2007 after the deaths of Bray Firefighters Brian Murray and Mark O'Shaughnessy the Labour Party brought forward a motion in the Dáil calling on the then Fianna Fáil/Green Government to establish a National Fire Authority and to fund a Full-time fire service in Bray. Indeed the then Wicklow Labour TD Liz McManus said it would be simply impossible for the local authority to take on the level of funding required to fund a full time service from within its own resources".

Cllr Brady concluded "Unfortunately not much has changed within the fire service since the deaths of Brian and Mark in 2007, calls are still being vetted to reduce the number of callouts to try weaken the argument for a full time service. We have a flawed report again trying to dilute the case for a better service. However what has changed is the fact that the Labour Party is now in Government and the Minister for the Environment is a Labour one,
Alan Kelly. The motion that I put forward and supported unanimously by the council calls on the Government to now step forward and provide grant assistance to provide a Full-time service in Bray, something they were calling for in 2007. It was felt we needed a full time service in 1984 when the Bray fire station was built to house one, 30 years later with a substantially increased population and it due to increase by at least 10,00 in the next few years, we need that service more than ever".