herald

Sunday 16 December 2018

Dated breathing kits may kill, say firemen

DANGER: Dublin crews shocked by safety warning

DUBLIN firefighters fear their breathing apparatus is out of date and is putting their lives at risk.

Firefighters who tackle serious blazes across the city, such as the Guinness fire in December 2009, have insisted that their lives are being endangered by the old apparatus, known as BA.

One concerned firefighter told the Herald that stations across Dublin received a memo warning firefighters not to refill their breathing apparatus cylinders with air unless they had the equipment checked.

He said: "The breathing apparatus cylinders are the only piece of equipment that's there for firefighters' use and safety. If there's smoke in a building, we can't go into it without a breathing apparatus.

"The date of manufacture on the BAs was 1996 and as far as I know they have a 15-year life span. From Tuesday night, they're not to be refilled because the use-by date is gone."

"At a major incident we've no cylinder because they haven't bought any. When they bought them, they knew the expiry date. A senior officer had done a lot of research into the breathing apparatus, but it seems like his report was put on the bottom shelf and nothing was done about it."

"Dublin Fire Brigade has a company coming from the UK to test the cylinders to make sure they can be used. But I don't understand how, if a best-before date is stamped on it, a company can now say they're okay to use.

"We can't go into a smoke-logged incident to save someone without breathing apparatus, and if there are empty cylinders and none left to refill then you can't go in again."

John Kidd from the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) said they can't do their jobs without air supply.

"The manager knew about this two years ago, but they panicked last night when they realised and they sent out a memo," he claimed.

"If we have an incident now, we'll be in serious danger.

"They all went out of date on Tuesday night. When they're empty, firefighters have been told not to refill them, and this is a new departure for us."

The firefighter claimed: "It shows scant regard for our safety and the safety of the people out there. They've known about this for years. Malfunctions do happen, but with this they knew they had to have systems in place to replace them."

Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) has insisted that it has an adequate stocks of breathing apparatus and cylinders.

A spokesperson for DFB said: "The brigade has recently completed a tendering process for the replacement of all breathing apparatus sets and cylinders.

"Until the new equipment comes on stream, all existing breathing apparatus cylinders must be processed through the Fire Brigade workshops for assessment before refilling.

"We currently have adequate stocks of breathing apparatus sets and cylinders for operational needs."

ggittens@herald.ie

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