Breathing gear fails as fireman is fighting blaze
A FIREFIGHTER was left gasping for air during a terrifying incident in which his breathing apparatus failed while he was battling a blaze in Dublin's south inner city.
The officer was in the burning building after units from Dolphins Barn station were sent to a fire at a derelict property opposite the Coombe Hospital in Cork Street.
The incident occurred at around 7.30pm last Friday week as the firefighter checked the building to ensure there were no homeless people sheltering inside.
It was the second time this year that apparatus has failed while firefighters were on a call-out.
Two officers were lucky to escape with their lives after their breathing gear failed as they helped to rescue nine people from a blazing flat last January.
In that incident, firefighters from Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) attended the flat in Thomas Court, Dublin 8, in which a Malaysian family and four others were trapped.
One officer who had to run from the second floor after his breathing mask failed was lucky to make it out to the fresh air without collapsing from lack of oxygen.
The second officer was more fortunate as his air supply partially returned as he fled the building.
In the latest incident, the firefighter is understood to have reached the landing of the building when his breathing apparatus suddenly stopped working.
It is understood he managed to escape without suffering any major injury.
A spokesman for Dublin Fire Brigade confirmed that there was an issue with the breathing apparatus.
"The matter is currently under investigation. The set used was from Dolphins Barn station," he said.
The spokesman added that there was a "robust and rigorous" maintenance schedule in place and emergency ambulances undergo weekly safety checks.
"There is an ongoing maintenance and replacement scheme and equipment and/or parts are replaced or repaired as is deemed necessary," he added.
In January, a union representing fire crews claimed faults with breathing gear had been happening for the past two years, despite a rash of problems being reported to bosses and the Health and Safety Authority.
Firefighters have said they first raised the issue of breathing apparatus malfunctions in January 2012 after failures reportedly occurred on six occasions.