Carlow Fire and Rescue Service has seen a 26% increase in incidents in the first half of 2013, compared to the first six months of 2012 when the fire service dealt with 193 incidents, this rose to 244 in the same period in 2013.
County Carlow has four fire stations, Carlow, Bagenalstown, Tullow and Hacketstown. Carlow station responded to 125 incidents from January to June 2013, compared to 107 for the same period in 2012; Bagenalstown dealt with 61 for the first six months of 2012 compared to 67 in 2013, while Hacketstown dealt with just 6 calls over the first six months in 2012, which increased to 11 in 2013. There was a significant increase of call-outs for Tullow station however, with 19 incidents from January to June in 2012 to 41 incidents for the same period in 2013.
Carlow’s Chief Fire Officer Gerard Guerin stated that malicious grass fires led to the increase in fire call outs this year. “There has been a 26% increase in our operational activity, the vast majority of which is down to grass fires, maliciously caused and set,” he stated. “We had a case during the summer where we received four calls to the same field in Carlow town in one day, a similar incident happened in Tullow at 2am,” Mr Guerin said.
At a recent sitting of Carlow County Council, local councillor Michael Doran asked whether, despite extensive educational initiatives undertaken by the fire service, the message of fire safety “was still not getting through, while councillor John Pender asked if there were adequate staffing levels in both Tullow and Hacketstown to deal with the increased demand.
CFO Guerin said he was gravely concerned in the rise of call-outs and confirmed that a thorough countywide risk assessment was underway. He said there had been a reduction in the number of fire-fighters in Tullow from 11 to 13. “This is of grave concern to us, as we try to deliver a high quality fire and rescue service. This is a drain on our resources and a waste of valuable funds. He added “The service was currently undergoing a comprehensive risk assessment of the entire county, in a way it never has been done in this county or anywhere else in the country before.”
Mr Guerin expected the results of this survey to be available in October, the findings of which are hoped to shape the policy and services of Carlow Fire and Rescue Service into the future.
Pic: Courtesy Declan Keogh