herald

Friday 21 September 2018

Firefighters' no-confidence vote after Ballymun tower blaze

Ballymun in the aftermath of the fire in The Metro Hotel
Ballymun in the aftermath of the fire in The Metro Hotel

The fallout from the Metro Hotel fire has led to Dublin firefighters issuing a vote of no-confidence in senior members of their administration.

Siptu members in Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) passed two votes of no-confidence in senior management.

The votes were taken at an emergency meeting held at the weekend in the wake of the high-rise fire in Ballymun last Wednesday night.

"Policy-makers and management have had many opportunities to resolve the issues raised by our members," said Siptu sector organiser Brendan O'Brien.

"However, we believe no satisfactory improvements have been made despite Siptu representatives continually raising health and safety concerns."

Angry

Siptu DFB convenor Shane McGill said: "These votes of no-confidence come directly from our members.

"They are frontline firefighters working in fire stations and control rooms across Dublin city and county and they have had enough."

He said members were "disillusioned and angry with the policies and the direction management has taken so far", and operational staff have made representations to management about training, safety, safe systems of work and exposure to risk.

In the wake of the Siptu vote, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy expressed his full confidence in the senior management of the fire service.

He said people will be "surprised" by the union, as the senior management plays a central leadership role in fire services and emergency management in Ireland.

The minister pointed to the work of senior management in DFB during Storm Emma at the start of this month and praised their "dedication to public service and public safety".

He said they are leading a "fundamental change in how we manage fire risk in Ireland".

"We need to get on with urgent fire safety work, and I look forward, in particular, to the finalisation of the report of the Fire Safety Task Force I set up in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, which I expect to receive at the end of April, and implementing its recommendations," Mr Murphy added.

On Friday, Mr McGill told the Herald that the two 30-metre ladders used to fight the blaze would not have been high enough to reach anyone trapped on the upper floors of the Metro Hotel.

He said members have been calling for a 42-metre ladder, along with additional resources, for a "very long time".

Evacuate

He revealed that half of aerial fire appliances being used are second-hand, while 52pc of those fitted with the longest ladders are at least 15-years-old.

DFB considers itself lucky that the 200 people inside managed to evacuate the premises before the blaze wreaked havoc.

However, DFB Chief Fire Officer Patrick Fleming said the equipment and resources were not a problem on the night.

"There will be more high-rise built in Dublin, it would appear, but there was no issue with equipment," he said at the time.

Representatives of Siptu and Forsa members in the DFB are seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Murphy.

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