Mountmellick firefighters determined to get their flooded fire station back in order

A dedicated and determined fire crew in County Laois have been working over the weekend to get their fire station back in order following the floods this week.

Mountmellick Fire Station suffered extensive damage because of the floods which affected the midland town which began on Wednesday. As fire fighters from the county’s fifth station (LS15) out of eight were dealing with extensive floods in Mountmellick and Portartlington, firefighters were told that their station on the Portlaoise road was under water.

Main Pic: ( Inset: (Laois Fire & Rescue Service)

The flood waters were waste high inside the station, causing considerable damage to much of the crew’s equipment and facilities.

A skip sits outside the fire station as firefighters worked all day and late into the night clearing out and cleaning up the mess following the floods which also left hundreds of others and their homes damaged and destroyed.

All Photo: (Declan Keogh /

The appliance bay doesn’t appear to have had much equipment in it, however, the training room, drying room and BA room beyond the appliance bay suffered most of the flood damage. visited Mountmellick on Saturday and met with some of the fire crew. A member of the crew said “Although we lost a lot in the station, you have to think of all those poor unfortunates who have lost their homes and possessions. This is our station, but their home is their castle. This can be repaired and replaced quickly enough but other people may not be as fortunate.”

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Mountmellick Fire Crew: Photo: (Laois Fire & Rescue Service)

Laois County Fire & Rescue Service has confirmed to Emergency Times that the fire service in Mountmellick has remained on-call, operational and available since the flooding and throughout, and while their station is being repaired the fire crew are being housed temporarily at the Laois Civil Defence Unit on the Bay Road until the fire station is fit for purpose again.

Fire Officers were busy on Saturday sourcing and replacing equipment and supplies for the station in order that the community and businesses of Mountmellick and its environs can return to having a fully functioning retained fire service once again.

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Firefighters believe unique live fire training exercise may spread

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue have developed a new Realistic Fire Training Project which allows firefighters to carry out live training scenarios in houses before they are demolished.

Firefighters have hailed the impact a first-of-its-kind training opportunity which saw them test their expert skills at a flame-filled live exercise in Barnsley.

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All Photos: (South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue @SYFR)

Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes have made soon-to-be-demolished properties on Baden Street in the town available to the fire service for live fire and rescue training. The scenarios all involved a fire being set in one of the properties and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entering the property to rescue casualties and put out the blaze.

The burns were carried out in a safe, controlled way with every effort made to minimise disruption to local people and the environment. Fire bosses say that as the number of house fires in the country continues to fall, it’s vital that crews are trained in the most authentic conditions possible so that they are ready to respond to the best of their ability should real incidents occur.

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Station Manager Chris Mee, said: “This project was designed to improve operational effectiveness, firefighter safety and public safety. As the number of house fires in South Yorkshire continues to reduce, our crews are exposed to less incidents making it even more important that the training we offer them is as realistic and challenging as possible.”

“It’s also an example of public agencies working together to deliver better outcomes for local people and we’re really grateful to Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes for agreeing to facilitate these rare training opportunities. We now hope that other local partners will work with us to provide similar training opportunities.”

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Although this type of training has been popular in some of the fire and rescue services in the South of England, this is the first time that this type of training has been done in the North of England, where the fire service is working in such close partnership with local councils, housing associations.

Tony Carlin, Head of Emergency Response for SYFR said “This is a joint venture between Barneslai Homes and Barnsley Council. What we’ve managed to do is access the properties, before they are regenerated. What we’d like to do, and using this as the backdrop, is to really focus on firefighter safety. By giving them this type of training and being able to run multiple crews through the buildings behind us, we’re confident now in the experiential learning that our crews are getting will see them into the real world, and help them face whatever it is they may be facing.”

Berneslai Homes Director of Assets, Regeneration and Construction, Stephen Davis said: “We were pleased to have co-operated with this project with the fire service for the benefit of our tenants and residents and their safety and it’s been a great success.”

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It is hoped that the Realistic Fire Training Project (RFTP) will be rolling out to all four districts within South Yorkshire, however, with some work still to be completed on the RFTP.

Chris Mee said “We’re got a bit of work to do now to consolidate all the learning that’s come from Baden Street as this is the first time we’ve undertaken this exercise and then we are going to approach Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Councils to try and make use of their soon to be demolished properties and make Realistic Fire Training exercises such as this one, business as usual within South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.”

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Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: “As both a Barnsley councillor and chair of the Fire Authority, I am proud of the way in which local partners have come together to support the work of the fire service. Firefighters do a vital job and are hugely valued by the public, so it is only right that we work together to provide them with appropriate training opportunities such as these.”


Flood relief efforts continue in Laois

Multi-agency efforts to alleviate and restrict flooding in County Laois continues this weekend.

Efforts are continuing this morning to assist the public and businesses following the floods which took place in Mountmellick and Portarlington in County Laois this week.

Laois Fire & Rescue Service, Laois Civil Defence and the Defence Forces have been working tirelessly since Wednesday to help communities in Mountmellick. The town was shut-off because of the flooding. Schools, businesses and local shops were all closed.


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Pic: Left (Laois Civil Defence) Right: (Laois Fire & Rescue Service)

The fire service was pumping water from houses and businesses. Almost each of the eight fire stations on County Laois were active during the critical flood period with further assisted being provided by fire crews from neighboring counties of Offaly, Westmeath and Longford.

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Pic: (Laois Fire & Rescue Service via Twitter @LaoisFireRescue)

Laois Civil Defence had dozens of volunteers, vehicles and equipment in use throughout. They too were provided with assistance from their colleagues from counties Kildare, Westmeath and Dublin.

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Civil Defence Operations. Pic: (Laois Civil Defence via Twitter @LaoisCivilDefen)

Over 100 homes were destroyed, leaving hundreds of people displaced and having to take shelter in emergency rest centres which were established by Laois County Council. The worst affected areas were on the Clonaslee side of the town. Efforts this mooring are concentrated on Portarlington.

On Thursday, the Defence Forces deployed 30 of its members from the Defence Forces Training Centre DFTC in the Curragh, to assist emergency workers and the community in Mountmellick, with specialist equipment to assist in flood defence, mobility and clean-up tasks.

Laois Civil Defence’ Operational Command and Support Unit was central for the communications and crisis management system operated by Laois County Council under the Framework for Major Emergency Management in conjunction with the council’s Co-ordination Centre in Portlaoise.

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Arial View from Laois Civil Defence Drone Unit. Pic: (Laois Civil Defence)

Dublin Civil Defence also brought specialist equipment and to assist in the floods. Its Leyland DAF and Haggluds were deployed to assist with flood evacuation and displaced persons and Kildare Civil Defence provided personnel and transfer vehicles.

The Irish Red Cross will administer the provision of a Humanitarian Assistance Scheme. Minister with Responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe TD announced the scheme and said it will provide emergency assistance for small businesses, sports clubs and community organisations unable to secure flood insurance, which have been affected by the flooding.

The humanitarian scheme works in two stages: (i) to provide a contribution of up to €5,000 which should meet the needs for the majority of those affected.

Stage two is in the event that the premises have incurred significant damages above €5,000. This will provide a means to seek further support. The total level of support available for both stages combined will be capped at €20,000.

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Firefighters build temporary walk-over for residents. Pic: (Laois Fire & Rescue Service)

Laois County Council confirmed that up to 35 families were provided with emergency accommodation in Portlaoise after being evacuated from their homes. The council has said it has taken measurable steps to deal with flood water from the River Barrow which was heading to Portarlington.

Director of Services for Laois County Council is Kieran Kehoe. ‘We have implemented our plans for severe weather and flooding and we are monitoring the situation and its levels on an on-going basis. We are still dealing with a substantial amount of flooding,’ Mr Kehoe said.

Mr. Kehoe said many roads were impassable and access to properties was restricted. ‘A lot of the roads are still impassable, a lot of access to a lot of properties is still impossible due to the very high flood waters that are still in existence. The wind levels are still increasing in the Mountmellick area.’

Flood relief efforts continue today.


National Ambulance Service pumps energy into new fleet

The capital spends of €14.5m has allowed the HSE to purchase 91 new vehicles for the National Ambulance Service during 2017.

These vehicles include 55 Emergency Ambulance’s, 7 Intermediate Care Vehicles, 25 Rapid Response Vehicles, 2 Driving Training Units and 2 Critical Care Ambulances. The 2 Critical Care Ambulances contain enhanced medical equipment for critically ill patients.

HSE New Ambulances

Five of the fifty-five ambulances have been assigned to Dublin Fire Brigade.

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) recently won an ESAI sustainable energy award for the energy efficiency of the new vehicles, which include solar panels and other energy saving features.

HSE New Ambulances

Overall, the NAS operates a fleet of 500 vehicles from over 100 locations across Ireland, which travel in excess of 20 million kilometres per annum (total kms for the fleet in one year).

HSE New Ambulances

Martin Dunne, Director of the HSE National Ambulance Service said, ‘These new vehicles will greatly reduce our carbon footprint as well as providing enhanced care to our patients.  A number of these new vehicles are already in service.  The public can see these vehicles in Dublin and throughout the country as they are rolled out to replace existing NAS fleet. They have solar panels on each vehicle as well as a number of other energy efficient features.  This has all been made possible through funding form the HSE National Service Planning process.’

HSE New Ambulances
Photo: (NAS Director Martin Dunne and Minister for Health Simon Harris TD)

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD welcomed the introduction of the new vehicles saying, ‘I am delighted that this investment in the fleet will improve our ambulance service.  I also want to commend the National Ambulance Service for achieving recognition for their work in the use of green technologies.  A significant reform programme has been underway in the National Ambulance Service over recent years. This initiative is yet another example of the ongoing work to deliver a safe and responsive service which strives for high performance and efficiency whilst coping with a continuously increasing demand for services.

HSE New Ambulances

Photos: Courtesy HSE National Ambulance Service Press Office 

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LifeSaver Road Safety show hits Limerick hard

Gardaí and emergency services in Limerick delivered a graphic road safety show to 1800 Transition Year students over two days from across Limerick City and County as part of the LifeSaver road safety programme.

The multi-agency road safety show is an RSA Leading Light award-winning programme which was developed by Limerick Garda Tony Minitir. Over the past few years, the programme has developed and is one of the leading road safety programmes being delivered by gardaí in the Limerick region.

LK Fire AMbualnce

The event is broken up into two parts, the first is outdoors of which is a very realistic reconstruction of a fatal road traffic collision and the second part is an indoor presentation which is a combination of realistic experiences from members of front line emergency services and some hard-hitting road safety adverts from around the world which may not be normally viewed in Ireland.

The speakers include Garda Sergeant Tony Miniter, Croom Garda Station; Garda Paul Baynham, Mayorstone Garda Station; Advanced Paramedic Keith Mullane from the National Ambulance Service in Limerick and Station Officer John Lyons from Rathkeale Fire Station in Limerick.


Special Guest speaker on both mornings was collision survivor Fergal Cagney, who was involved in a very serious road traffic collision in 2005 where he severed his spine. Fergal was left a quadriplegic following the crash and has 24-hour nursing care at his home.

Three professional actors also play the part of the casualties.

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The Lifesaver Project Road Safety Event which is a collaboration between An Garda Síochána, National Ambulance Service and Limerick Fire and Rescue Service is also delivered in partnership with Limerick City and County Council.

The event was held on the 14th & 15th November at the South Court Hotel and Conference Center in Limerick City. Approximately 1,800 students from across the city and county witnessed first-hand what the scene of a serious road traffic collision is like and a presentation of what happens to a person and those around them when they are involved in a road traffic collision.

LifeSaver Banner Logo

The simulated crash involves three people, a brother and sister in one vehicle and a drunk driver in another. Following the crash, the vehicle in which the brother and sister are travelling results in the driver being injured and trapped and, sadly, the front seat passenger is fatally injured.

This causes huge anxiety and stress to the trapped driver who is fighting for her own life.  The other driver, who caused the collision has a minor injury, is in a clear drunken state and is walking around the scene before the Gardai arrive. The audience are very close to what is happening, and they can also hear every word and breath of the ‘casualties’, who are played by professional actors who are wearing flesh-mics.

The emergency services are quick to arrive on the scene. Although this is an re-enactment, gardaí and the fire and ambulance personnel treat the scene as a real-life situation. A risk assessment of the scene is carried out and each service consults with each other.

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A garda, a lead advanced paramedic and a fire officer are all ‘miked-up’ so the audience can hear what they are talking about and dealing with. The fire and rescue personnel and the ambulance personnel take care of the people who need attention and the Gardai deal with the drunk driver. He is spoken to by the Gardaí and a road side breath test is carried out. The driver fails this and is subsequently arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back of the patrol car.


Soon after this while the other members are trying to get the driver from the car on a spinal board the mum of the brother and sister arrive on the scene. The mother is hysterical, and her screams can be heard across the scene as she cries out for her son who is dead and her daughter who is seriously injured.

Garda Baynham comforts casualty

The Mother is comforted by Garda Paul Baynham as she kneels on the ground with her child in her arms. Soon after this they go away together in the ambulance and Garda Paul Baynham briefly speaks to the audience about what they have seen and ways to try and prevent any one of them having to experience this scene for real. The audience is then invited to go into the conference center for the second part of the event.

Once inside, students are briefed on the collision they have just witnessed. This aspect of the show is a combination of realistic experiences from members of front line emergency services and also some hard-hitting road safety ads from around the world.

Delivering road safety education and advice to second level students is essential, and delivering it to Transition year students is probably one of the hardest audiences to get through to, because of their age, inexperience on the road and sometimes, their attitudes.

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During the show, Garda Sgt Tony Minitir urged people to slow down for their own survival. ‘Please slow down and obey the rules of the road for your own survival as much as for everybody else. A special word of thanks goes to Fergal Cagney who shows extreme courage talking to the audience about his collision again and again’.

Garda Paul Baynham said young drivers must gain respect for vehicles. ‘Many of the students will embark on their driving careers within the next two-years, young drivers must gain a respect for vehicles and see the potential devastation that they can bring’ he said.

Ambulance Paramedeic Keith Mullane recounted late night collisions and how he deals with what happens when a phone rings. ‘I’ve been to collisions late at night and I’ve heard a phone ringing on the floor of the car with “mom” or “my special girl” calling and I think, what will I say?’.

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Organisers and participants of the LifeSaver Road Safety event are happy with its reception and has received very positive feedback from the people who attended on both days. This is a very hard-hitting road safety presentation that is delivered by full time emergency services personnel who witness the devastation that is caused from road traffic collisions.

(All Photos: Courtesy LifeSaver Programme – Limerick Gardaí)
Emergency Times wishes to thank Garda Paul Baynham for his time in providing this report.

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Everyones got a story to tell. Whats Yours?

‘I can’t remember a callout where we were all just ecstatic from the outcome, the patient, his wife, their family, neighbors, everyone. It’s a huge relief and a great sense of achievement when you bring a person back to life’ – Ambulance Paramedic

‘The overwhelming delight we got when we lifted that little person, that fragile being out of the raft and onto our vessel. We may not speak the same language or have the same beliefs, but we were all on the one page that day. She was safe, we were so happy’ – Defence Forces Naval Service

Everyone’s got a story to tell, and we want to hear yours.

Emergency Times has teamed up with FESSEF to publish your stories from you. As part of the 2018 Emergency Services Day, the Frontline Emergency Security Services Éire Forum is looking to hear from you.

Stories can be light hearted or heart-felt and should ideally be no more than 1000 words. Include your name, e-mail address, service and a contact phone number.


Send your story to this e-mail :
Featured File Photo: (CFR, Ambulance Crew and local firefighters following successful resuscitation in Hacketstown, Co. Carlow)

Hacketstown Story

Emergency Times will be promoting this initiative over the next number of months.

Is Ireland ready for a Winter Emergency? Have Your Say

A study to identify current levels of emergency preparedness at an individual and household level is being conducted by a team of professors and consultants at Dublin City University Research Unit.

It is hoped the study will help to influence emergency planning and inform government policy on emergency preparedness, in particular ‘Winter Ready’.  This study is being by Gavin D. Brown, Prof Caroline McMullan & Prof Ann Largey

Completion of this questionnaire is on a voluntary basis and anonymous and should take approximately 10 – 12 minutes to complete. The link to the survey is listed below.

You may exit the questionnaire at any time. Moreover, we would like to stress that the demographic questions are not used to track individual responses, but rather to help us understand trends in the data.

Mayo Exercise
File Photo: (Major Emergency Exercise in Mayo)

Due to the anonymity of each response and the nature of the data, it will not be destroyed after findings are published as it will be used as a baseline for future studies. The research results will only be accessed by the research team who will have access to this raw data, which will be stored on secure drives.

If you have any questions regarding this research, please contact us on

If you have concerns about this study and wish to contact an independent person, please contact: The Secretary, Dublin City University Research Ethics Committee, c/o Research and Innovation Support, Dublin City University, Dublin 9.  Tel 01-7008000, e-mail

Link to Survey here