herald

Thursday 21 September 2017

Fears over new oxygen masks for firefighters

NEW breathing equipment for Dublin firefighters should be immediately withdrawn on safety grounds, emergency representatives have warned.

The apparatus sets pose a "serious threat to the life of firefighters and the citizens they serve", the Irish Fire Emergency Services Association (IFESA) said.

It comes after three further incidents, one of which occurred during a domestic fire in west Dublin.

Des Kavanagh, representing the IFESA, said claims that the problems had been sorted have not been borne out.

Three further breathing apparatus sets failed on Monday during a 12-hour period, he said.

It brought to eight the number of incidents.

On Monday morning, a class of new recruits were using the equipment in a routine exercise when one did not operate in the correct manner, affecting the airflow.

An instructor intervened and the set was "impounded".

A second incident arose later on Monday night when a firefighter at a domestic fire in Tallaght experienced insufficient air flow, causing the mask to collapse on to his face.

The firemen had to immediately evacuate themselves from the building.

Also on Monday night, a set developed an "unexplainable" loss of pressure that turned into a leak.

Mr Kavanagh said firefighters could have been in very serious danger.

"Yet Dublin City Council insisted ... the problem had been resolved, even though up to 60 sets have been taken out of operational use due to low level and unexplained failures," a statement from the IFESA said.

"We are highlighting real events, real failures and real threats to the safety of firefighters and the citizens of Dublin."

The council could not be contacted for comment.

comurphy@herald.ie

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