Wednesday 23 January 2019

Drunken teens, kitchen fires and malicious calls - St Patrick's Day always the same for fire brigade

Crews respond to a fire alarm in Ringsend
Crews respond to a fire alarm in Ringsend

St Patrick's Day is "Saturday night times five" for members of the Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB), and this year proved no different.

The Herald accompanied the crew from Phibsborough Fire Station on the night, and drunken teenagers was the main issue.

From 7pm, members were called to scenes across the city, having to deal with people completely unaware of the dangers they were putting themselves into.

One call shortly after they began their shift asked the crew to attend to a 15-year-old found lying unconscious on Dame Street, having drunk a litre of vodka.

Minutes later they were at the scene tending to the passed-out teenager while about 20 of his friends looked on.

"As you can see, this young lad is incapacitated after drinking an entire bottle of vodka," said District Officer Alan Dillon.


"We would treat him in the same manner as anyone else, but the problem with him is that he's a minor.

"None of his friends, who are also minors, can be deemed responsible to take care of him, but unlike adults he can't refuse care from medical staff."

After the teenager was seen to, another radio call came in regarding a 14-year-old girl who had passed out after also drinking a large quantity of vodka.

DO Dillon said such call-outs were typical during the national holiday, which was like "a Saturday night multiplied by five".

"It would definitely be one of the busiest days of the year - it's Dublin's Mardi Gras essentially," he said.

Another call came though regarding a domestic fire in an apartment building on Hatch Street. Four fire engines were at the scene with nearly 20 members of the brigade.

However, there was no sign of any smoke or fire.

"This is what we call a malicious false alarm. Someone deliberately made the call knowing that there was no emergency," said DO Dillon.

"Because of the sheer risk of an old building like this going on fire we have to use the weight of our resources to cope with a worse-case scenario."

Around 17pc of the calls DFB receives are malicious, down from 30pc in recent years.

Up until midnight, three intoxicated people were sick in the back of HSE ambulances.

"This is a big nuisance to emergency staff as it could take up to 20 minutes for them to clean and disinfect the vehicle - while they could be tending to other emergencies," said DO Dillon.

Another very common incident on St Patrick's Day and at weekends is people starting fires while trying to cook when drunk.

One such incident was in an apartment on Fitzwilliam Quay. Fortunately, the fire was minor and did not get out of hand.

"This happens a lot and we have to constantly warn the public not to cook after a night out," said DO Dillon.

"Get a takeaway instead because you could risk setting your whole house on fire.

"We have a very bad relationship with drink in this country, no doubt about it.

"However, no one expects this day to be easy. We have to be prepared and have to be at our best."

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