Civil Defence chiefs splash out €600k on waterproof clothing
THE Civil Defence is spending €600,000 on new waterproof uniforms for its volunteers around the country.
Up to 4,000 uniforms are being bought this year through funding by the Department of Defence, and volunteers will receive the new rain suits on a phased basis over the next three years, starting in the early part of 2011.
A spokesperson for the Civil Defence told the Herald that the uniforms have to be changed every three years in order for them to stay in good condition.
"The volunteers are out in rough terrain and bad weather. In the Big Freeze they needed good layering and a good uniform, and in the flooding they needed uniforms with good sealing."
Seamus Murray, Procurement Manager in the Civil Defence, added: "It'll be the gear they'll wear when they're out on water rescue, searching for a missing person, or doing exercises or training. It'll be worn in any activity they're involved in."
The Civil Defence is currently tendering for a supplier of the uniforms, which it says must be durable, comfortable and weatherproof.
Mr Murray said: "The uniform is a workwear uniform for civil defence volunteers. It's a rain jacket and rain trousers, a work shirt and a T-shirt, and a belt.
"We've been testing approved designs over the last few years, and these hopefully will have improved material and improved waterproof capabilities."
The organisation estimates that it currently has between 3,500 and 4,000 volunteers, all of whom need a replacement of shirts and trousers every three years, and rain gear every five years.
The new jacket will be slightly longer to ensure it is fully waterproof, and they'll be water tight at the seams.
Mr Murray added: "It's for all volunteers across the country. They'll be stored centrally and each county asks for how many they need. When the volunteers are out all day on searches in the wet winter weather, they need the best quality we can give them."
A spokesperson for the OPW, which is managing the tendering process, said the new uniforms will be more adaptable to vigorous conditions in the outdoors.
"The current tender for Civil Defence uniforms reflects a shift in uniform policy within the organisation, wherein the traditional design, consisting of formal trousers and tunic, will be augmented by a more operationally practical outfit.
"This new attire is more suitable to the many emergency response functions its members perform."