Fire Brigade Unions fear over call centre mistakes

The Fire Brigade Union fears call centre software may not be have been fully tested as a fire station in Carlisle East  in Cumbria received a print-out to a rescue call more than 100 miles away near Bolton, Lancashire by a new control centre based in Warrington, Cheshire.

The Regional Control Centre is the hub for 999 fire calls for Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester and Lancashire. FBU officials fear this latest mix-up, which is one of many over the past few months could potentially cost a life. Such is their concerns, the FBU have taken their concerns to one of the county’s MPs, who has called for an investigation.

The FBU’s Brigade Chairman in Cumbria Dave Burn said: “The crew at Carlisle East station questioned the mobilisation with fire control and the operators there. It was resolved without them having to go to Bolton.”

Mr Burn put the blame for this mistake down to software used in the control room, which he does not believe has been thoroughly tested. “Control operators are doing their very best but the technology is failing them; it hasn’t been fully tried and tested. We have union members in the control room and they are in an uncomfortable position”

Westmorland MP Tim Farron has confirmed he will write to the Secretary of State for Communities, Eric Pickles to review the situation. He said “This project has been called a ‘white elephant’ and it really is. How can we expect someone in Warrington to know the difference between Staveley-in-Westmorland and Staveley-in-Cartmel when someone calls in distress? I hope that Eric Pickles will urgently look at this new evidence and agree to a review of the situation.”

A spokesperson for the Regional Fire Control Centre defended the set-up. He said: “The new North West Fire Control service has been successfully taking calls and mobilising fire engines and officers across Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester for over three months. During that time operators have shown great professionalism and dedication in dealing with more than 15,000 calls, including some major emergencies.

Fire Control NOrth West

The spokesperson said the control room staff has had to work alongside officers in mobilising reduced numbers of fire engines to emergencies during the ongoing series of national strikes by the Fire Brigades Union.

The spokesman added: “We have investigated the alleged incident in Carlisle and can confirm that no fire engine was sent from Carlisle East to attend an incident at the Rivington Reservoir in Lancashire. The incident in question was a water rescue that was successfully dealt with by Lancashire crews who were mobilised straightaway. The confusion seems to surround a printout message sent in error to Carlisle East however, this was immediately recognised as a mistake and no resource was ever mobilised.”

Order of Malta Ireland’s first Knight of Justice

St Kevin’s Church on Dublin’s Harrington Street was the fitting venue for a solemn profession of Fra’ Paul Caffrey as a Knight of Justice in the Order of Malta. He is the first Irish man to be elevated to the rank of Knight of Justice in almost five centuries.

As a Knight of Justice, Fra’ Paul is a member of the professed religious of the Order of Malta and took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

During the Mass – celebrated in the Extraordinary Form – Fra’ Paul was presented with a sword and reminded of his responsibility to defend and protect the poor and the vulnerable. While the ceremony was full of splendour, the constant references to the vital work of the Order of Malta assisting the vulnerable in every corner of the globe showed the ongoing relevance of the order and the professed knights.

51-year-old Fra’ Paul, an art historian and lecturer at the National College of Art and Design, has spent several years preparing for his solemn profession.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, was present and was joined by many members of the clergy and many members of the second and third orders of Knights and Dames of Malta from Ireland and overseas. It was to Fra’ Matthew Festing, as Grand Master of the Order, that Fra’ Paul made his solemn vows to. Members of the Order of Malta ambulance Corps, perhaps the most public face of the order, gave the guard of honour.

The Grand Master of the Order, Fra’ Matthew told The Irish Catholic that Saturday’s ceremony was “a bit of a milestone” for the Order in Ireland. “It’s the first time it’s taken place here since the 16th Century, so it’s a hugely significant moment, I hope there will be repeats of this.”

Fra’ Matthew is keen to emphasise the importance of the professed knights within the order. “I’d like to think that some young person here today might think ‘perhaps that’s for me’, or ‘perhaps that’s something I should be thinking of’. I keep praying these ideas will catch on.”

August 2014
Source: The Irish Catholic

Attacks on Limerick fire crews ‘below national average’

LIMERICK City Fire & Rescue Service says that attacks on fire fighters in Limerick City and County are below national average. This comes following calls by the IFESA  for legislation to protect frontline emergency service personnel.

IFESA, the Irish Fire and Emergency Service Association are calling for the Government to review their decision to reject legislation allowing mandatory jail sentences for those convicted of assaulting and injuring emergency services workers.

The association says that a member of the frontline emergency services is attacked while on duty every 36 hours. There have been 2,000 serious attacks on emergency services workers in Ireland over the past eight years, with 1,551 attacks confirmed between 2006 and 2011.

However, a spokesperson for the Limerick City and County Council said that wouldn’t be the experience of the fire service in Limerick.

“By adopting community-related projects, we endeavour to build on that good relationship with the public in different ways. Yes, we have had fire fighters assaulted and in some cases injured, but definitely not even close to a frequency of once every 36 hours.”

Limerick_Community Crew

IFESA chairman John Kidd said that frontline services are not being properly protected by the Government, with their sick pay conditions actually being cut. “It is an extraordinary situation that emergency workers, who everyone in society says are doing a great job, are not being properly protected in the course of their duties,” he said.

Pic: Limerick Fire & Rescue Service

Garda Station to proudly fly Rainbow Flag during Gay Pride Parade

A Limerick Garda Station is to become the first in the state to fly the rainbow flag in support of this week’s Limerick Gay Pride which celebrates the LGBT Community.

Henry Street station, the biggest Garda division in Ireland will fly the rainbow flag outside its divisional headquarters on Saturday to coincide with Limericks Gay Pride parade which will pass the station on its route.

Limerick Gay Pride promotes Equality, Love, Diversity and Celebration and organiser of the festival, Dave Cuddihy said the show of support from Limerick gardaí was significant. “The Garda station in Henry Street are going to be the first Garda station in the country to fly a Pride flag on Saturday as the parade passes the route,” he said.

“It’s basically a symbol by them to show that the guards are there for us if we need them to support any incidents of homophobic crime. They are basically just reaching out and it’s a huge step forward for the guards in Ireland as well that this symbol is going to be put out there.”

Chief Supt Dave Sheahan described flying the flag as a means of “showing our recognition and support for LGBT people as they pass by Henry Street Garda station and, in particular, we are sending a message to report any homophobic, violent, threatening and/or abusive behaviour”.

Limerick Garda Gay Pride Group


National Ambulance Service allocates €7.5m for vehicles

Seventy-one HSE Ambulances have clocked up more than 300,000km while as many as forty-eight emergency ambulances have passed this mileage. Figures were revealed by Independent TD Denis Naughten following parliamentary questions.

To date there have been a number of technical and mechanical issues with Ambulances.

Denis Naughten TD said “Clearly, with close to a fifth of al emergency ambulances having mileage in excess of 400,000km it dramatically increases the chances of a breakdown” He added: “When these ambulances break down, not only do they put the lives of the patients that they are transporting at risk but it also means that another ambulance has to be taken out of an already overstretched system to take that patient to hospital”

Responding to queries raised by the Independent TD, Operations Performance Manager at the HSE Oliver Reilly said it is important to note that the odometer reading does not reflect an engine replacement and it does not indicate the replacement of other significant component parts.

The HSE National Ambulance Service have allocated €7.5m for vehicle and equipment replacements, and it is also planned to purchase 35 new emergency ambulances and two neo-natal ambulances at a cost of €3.5m. So far, fifteen of these ambulances have already entered into the ambulance service.


Retirement of Garda Chief Superintendent Michael Byrnes, Kildare

Just a quick preview of some of the photos taken at the Retirement of Garda Chief Superintendent Michael Byrnes, Kildare Garda Division on Friday 22/08/14 at Killashee House, Hotel, Naas, Co. Kildare. Over 300 people attended the function, including Garda Commissioner Noirin O’ Sullivan, Defence Forces Chief of Staff Conor O’ Boyle, former Garda Commissioners and former Chief Superintendents. Emergency Times will have more photos soon.
Photos: Les Kelly @emergencytimes

GRA: Cut to Garda allowances ‘essentially a pay cut’

The Garda Representative Association GRA has described the abolishment of the Garda annual rent allowance for new recruits as, ‘essentially a pay cut’. The allowances were cut in 2012 as part of the public pay negotiations, including a number of other allowances being paid to serving public servants.

The Garda rent allowance of €4,017 per annum was used to cover the costs for gardaí of being posted or transferred to stations outside their home county. A spokesperson for the GRA said the rent allowance has always been an integral part of garda pay. However, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that the allowances were abolished in 2012, and this is not a new move or decision.

It is possible the issue is now being raised because there have not been any new recruits since the 2012 to suffer the cut to allowances.

The GRA however sad, the withdrawal of rent allowance is simply a pay cut for new recruits and said an unfair disparity in pay between new recruits and their colleagues can only create friction. The GRA is seeking to have the mater re-examined during the full review of the role, pay and conditions of Gardai which is to be carried out under the Haddington Road Agreement.

Pic: Courtesy Declan Keogh (File Photo Garda Recruits 2007)
Garda recruits

Investigation following Sligo Premises fire

Investigations are continuing by Gardai and Sligo Fire Service after a fire at a premises at Union Place, in Sligo town this morning in which a large storage units containing Irish Water meters were destroyed.

Several units of Sligo Fire Service were alerted to the blaze shortly after 6am, following reports of a fire at the rear of a hostel.

It is understood GMC Sierra contractors were storing water meters in the units. It is feared the incident may be linked to arson, and as a result of escalating water meter protests in the area.

Nobody was injured in the blaze.
Sligo Fire brigade Tanker

Library Pic: Sligo Fire Service

Michael Collins death mask presented to Cathal Brugha barracks visitor centre

At a ceremony on Friday 22nd August in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Rathmines, Dublin, the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Conor O’Boyle and the grand niece of General Michael Collins, Ms Helen Collins, laid wreathes to mark the death of the first Commander in Chief of the National Army, General Michael Collins, on 22nd of August, 1922.

After the ceremony, the death mask of General Collins was presented to the Barracks museum by Helen Collins with another grand niece of General Collins, Ms Mary Claire O’Malley, also present.

Pic: Courtesy Defence Forces