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Ferris calls for National Fire Authority

9 October, 2007

Speaking on a Private Members motion expressing sympathy to the families of deceased Bray fire fighters Brian Murray and Mark O'Shaughnessy, North Kerry TD Martin Ferris called for the creation of a National Fire Authority to oversee a programme of integrated training and standards across the country.

Speaking this evening Deputy Ferris said, "The deaths of Brian Murray and Mark O'Shaughnessy remind us that fire fighting is a dangerous job. Their funerals and the outpouring of public sympathy were proof of the great esteem in which fire fighters are held by the entire community. That makes it all the more important that the fire service is properly resourced, equipped and trained.

"Fire fighters themselves have recognised the need for an integrated training programme and common standards across the whole state. And that the best way to ensure this is to have a National Fire Authority with the responsibility to see that this is put into place.

"The failure to date to establish such an authority is rather puzzling as it would seem to require little ingenuity or initiative on the part of Government. Failure to do so, however, not only affects the local service but also means that this state is in the embarrassing position of being unable to participate in international co-operation efforts. This is because other states do not believe that Irish fire fighters are trained to take part in operations, for example in relation to earthquakes and other natural disasters, because of the lack of a national training programme.

"There is also the issue of risk assessment, the absence of which at local level could prove to be disastrous in certain circumstances. For example the Dublin fire service responded to an average of 200 calls per day in 2004. That places huge demands that could easily over stretch the available resources. This makes it all the more vital that an up to date risk assessment is carried out so that resources can be tailored to likely demand. At a time when the fire service is in the news it would be opportune for the Government to commit itself to ensuring that such risk assessments are carried out in every county." ENDS

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