herald

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Airport firefighters delayed by puncture as scrapyard blazes

A HI-TECH fire engine from Dublin Airport was delayed for an hour after it got a puncture while on the way to a fight a huge blaze at a breaker's yard in Swords.

Airport chiefs offered to send the specialised foam firefighting unit -- because Dublin Fire Brigade doesn't have one.

Dublin Fire Brigade say their old foam unit was decommissioned two years ago because of its age.

They are still waiting a replacement and a spokesman for the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA), the union that represents many DFB firefighters, couldn't say when the new truck would be operational.

Firefighters' representatives say the Department of the Environment released funds for the foam tender to Dublin City Council and the manufacturing of the truck began in 2008, but it has yet to be delivered.

The blaze at Boland's vehicle recycling facility, on the Old Swords Road on Sunday night and Monday morning, reached such an intensity that Dublin Airport feared it might have to close its runways because of the smoke.

That's why it offered its massive foam tender to Dublin Fire Brigade -- however it was punctured on the road outside the burning yard by a piece of debris that had exploded from the fire.

This delayed the unit by an hour.

"At the moment we don't have a foam unit of our own so there are certain fires we would not be able to fight," a DFB source told the Herald. "If there was a fire in the docks or a petrol tanker ruptured and went on fire we would use foam on it, if we had it," he added.

Foam is used on fires where oil or fuel is involved because it sits on top of the flames and starves them of oxygen.

Water is unsuitable on these fires because the burning liquid rises to the top of it and continues to burn.

Airports have to have foam units because of the risk from burning aviation fuel during an emergency.

The fire at the car breaker's yard in Swords burned through the night, sending plumes of smoke into the sky.

"We were concerned about the density of the smoke near the airport so we offered the use of our foam unit, and unfortunately it got punctured on the road on a piece of debris from the fire," said Siobhan Moore, of the Dublin Airport Authority.







Dangerous

An IFESA spokesman said: "Because DFB doesn't have its own foam unit, it doesn't have the capability to fight large fuel fires. If they'd had one on a Sunday night, it might not have needed to borrow one from the airport," he added.

"This was the sort of fire where foam can be important, because a crew can cover a large area of fuel or oil very quickly to prevent a fire spreading, making it less dangerous for the fire crew and the public," the spokesman said.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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