Sligo Fire Authority has had one of its busiest years to date; hosting the National Finals of the Rescue Organisation Challenge in our Sligo Headquarters in March in which teams from all over Ireland competed for the prize of representing Ireland in the world championships. This was an honour to host and the fire-fighters that volunteered their time to train, compete and arrange the event are indicative of the calibre of staff we are so fortunate to have. The Road Safety Authority also attended and brought their “Shuttle Bus” containing the motorbike and car simulators, bicycle simulator and break reaction time test to mention a few of the attractions for the public. The event was well supported by our community and provided an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of road safety.
The “National Schools Programme” launched by the Minister involves the provision of fire safety awareness in the home to all third class students in every National School in the county. This proved a highly popular initiative and principals, teachers and schools were very accommodating and we look forward to continuing to develop in the area of community fire safety.
During 2009, we again accommodated approximately 2,500 visitors in groups to the fire station. Each group was provided with a tour of the facilities, information was given on our equipment and work and most importantly we promoted fire safety.
The Department has provided funding for us to purchase two new “Fire Engines” this year, and the contract is to be awarded to the supplier at a value of over half a million euro.
This year shall see completion of the new Fire Station in Ballymote, designed by our Borough architects. This stylish and modern building shall enhance the streetscape. The Brigade shall now once again have a station to be proud of and capable of serving the needs of this modern community.
Sligo Fire Station Headquarters has also received funding for some upgrading works to provide an improved and safe work environment.
The operational side of the service has again had a busy year, particularly during the spring when large forest fires caused hundreds of acres of forestry to be destroyed. These incidents have been investigated by the Gardai and I wish to thank them for their assistance in this area.
The Brigades throughout the county have experienced a busy year in 2009 with a total of 875 incidents attended. These were distributed as follows; Sligo 538, Ballymote 142, Tubbercurry 112 and Enniscrone 83. Approximately 51% of incidents attended were fires, 14% of incidents involved accidents on our roads and 13% were false alarms. Chimney fires accounted for 14% of calls.
Despite the advertising campaigns highlighting both Fire Safety and Road Safety the Brigades again attended multiple fatalities in both these areas of our work.
The “Incident Command System” has now been implemented using the existing resources and records the procedures implemented at an incident. In order to carry out our operations in a safe and efficient manner staff undergo regular training in scene safety, safe operating procedures and undertake their duties in accordance with our safety statement. The provision of emergency first responder training, defibrillator training, hazardous chemical training and rescue and fire fighting techniques ensure that we can respond to incidents in accordance with the Fire Services Acts of 1981 and 2003.
The “Framework for Major Emergency Management” continues to provide the guidance for the implementation of a coordinated response by the “lead agencies” to any major incident or event. The cooperation between the Gardai, HSE and Fire Service continues to develop and has proved very worthwhile in improving the service provided to the community.
Fire prevention work strives to achieve a safer environment through certification, inspection and when necessary enforcement. There has been a reduction in the number of Fire Safety Certificates being applied for but this reduction has been more than absorbed by the increased work associated with licensing, community fire safety and the National Schools Programme.
The Fire Service provides information and training on fire safety management and fire fighting to all sectors and groups in the community. This includes hundreds of adults being formally trained in the use of fire extinguishers and the ongoing community safety programme using the mobile demonstration unit.
People must remain vigilant in the home and on the roads as this is where most life threatening incidents occur each year.
The health and safety of employees and the public we serve is to the forefront of the service we provide. There is a very strict training and disciplinary regime in the Fire Brigade as is necessitated by the sometimes difficult and dangerous environment in which Fire-fighters work, as has been regrettably highlighted by recent tragedies. The responsibility now placed upon the “Incident Commander” in dealing with even minor events is continually increasing and training highlights the need for continual improvement. Every member of staff is now obliged to participate in training and act in the appropriate manner to avoid endangering others or themselves. Failing this, disciplinary procedures are implemented.