Fire Brigade to ballot for strike action over ambulances shortage
Dublin firefighters are to ballot for strike action due to what trade union Siptu has said is a shortage of ambulances in the city.
Senior management at Dublin City Council has refused to resource an additional four ambulances to meet service demands.
Dublin firefighters have said this is "completely unacceptable to our members as it places the public, communities and businesses at unnecessary risk".
The Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) also said it places undue and unsustainable strain on DFB paramedics - who fight to save the lives of people on a daily basis. The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has identified that there is a capacity issue in relation to the operation of the ambulance service in Dublin, Siptu sector organiser Brendan O'Brien said.
The management of DFB informed Dublin City Council that it is prepared to put four additional ambulances on the streets immediately, so that its Emergency Medical Service (EMS) can achieve HIQA targets.
However, senior management at Dublin City Council has stated that it is not in a position to provide the ambulances.
In a statement issued last night, the trade union said: "Siptu members in Dublin Fire Brigade have served notice of a ballot for strike action following a refusal by the senior management of Dublin City Council to resource an additional four ambulances to meet service demands in the city".
Siptu said it had advised management about the possibility of industrial action in December. Impact, the other union which represents DFB staff, is to consult its members in the coming days.
"Our members in the DFB will be consulted over the coming days with a view to also proceeding with a ballot for strike action due to this unacceptable situation," said Impact national secretary Peter Nolan. A spokesman for Dublin City Council said it "has no comment to make on this matter at the moment".
Dublin Fire Brigade is the largest full-time brigade in the country, with more than 1,000 personnel. Last year, the service responded to 115,000 calls, representing some 40pc of the national volume, an increase in calls on 2015. At the January meeting of the council, a motion was passed asking both Local Government Minister Simon Coveney and Health Minister Simon Harris to act and provide funds for the new vehicles.
The motion was tabled by Labour councillor Alison Gilliland, who said an increase in calls and incidents meant 12 ambulances were not sufficient.
The service was world-class but needed immediate funding for additional ambulances to operate safely and effectively, she said. The DFB was founded in 1862, with the first ambulance service formed in 1898.