herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Radio failure put fire crew lives at risk

Firefighters claim that vital radio equipment failed to work in a recent blaze in south Dublin -- where three officers were within seconds of being killed.

Hand-held radios are carried into burning buildings to communicate with surveying officers outside, but some of these do not work in temperatures above 55C, firefighters claim.

Three firemen were treated for burns in St James's Hospital, Dublin on January 21, after tackling the massive blaze on Lower Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, in an empty retail unit which was previously used by a Chartbusters DVD shop.

And when the teams entered in temperatures which reached well over 100C, one team's radio failed to communicate to the officers that the conditions were too dangerous to stay inside.

The men became heavily disorientated as a result of intense heat and darkness. The collapsed roof had prevented them using the hose to find an exit.

Later it emerged that one officer's radio had failed because it does not work in conditions above 55C or below minus 20C.

One firefighter told the Herald: "They couldn't hear the communications over the radio and they nearly got killed. When the lads came out they were smouldering.

"This thing has to work in the most extreme conditions. If you don't get that message you can be left in a fire, so communications are vital.



CHECKS

"When the fire officer came out, the lads outside said they had told him to come out. But he said he didn't hear anything. Then he read the notice on the battery." The three have all been released from hospital but are still recovering from their traumatic experience.

But witnesses have said the fire could have ended in a tragedy like the blaze in a factory in Bray, Co Wicklow, in September, 2007, which took the lives of Brian Murray (46) and his colleague Mark O'Shaughnessy (26) when the roof of the factory collapsed.

A Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) spokesperson said: "DFB have not received any complaints with regard to uniforms and all equipment including radios are subject to regular checks.

"DFB are conducting a full debrief on the incident in Chartbusters, Stillorgan."

Meanwhile, the firefighters also claim that the uniforms did not protect them properly in the Stillorgan fire.

hnews@herald.ie

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