New €1.13m fire station officially opened in Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny

The communities of Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny and its environs warmly welcomed its new fire station which was officially opened on Monday last, 21st May.

Graiguenamanagh’s old fire station had been in operation since 1960 and was unable to cope with the demands of a modern fire and rescue service. The new facility provides for a two-bay station with a training yard, lecture room, canteen and staff facilities. Specific training installations include a drill tower, an underground water tank and breathing apparatus compressor room.

The new station was officially opened by Deputy John Paul Phelan, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, in the presence of Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr. David Fitzgerald and Mayor of the Municipal District of Kilkenny City, Cllr. Michael Doyle, and a large gathering of invited guests.

960 Graiguenamanagh Station Minister Paul Phelan
Minister John Paul Phelan meets Graiguenamanagh fire crew.
(Photo: Courtesy Kilkenny County Council)

The Fire Service plays a crucial role in making communities safer, whether it’s preventing fires, protecting people from fire and other risks or responding swiftly and effectively to the various rescues, incidents and emergencies firefighters are faced with as part of their working lives. The existence of a professional fire and rescue service is fundamental to public and personal safety.

Cathaoirleach David Fitzgerald congratulated all associated with the provision of the new fire station in Graiguenamanagh, it is an invaluable piece of public infrastructure for the local communities of south Kilkenny and Carlow and extended his best wishes for the future to the Personnel who will work from it. He also singled out for praise the service garden and the importance of remembering and giving recognition to all the firefighters that have served their community.

960 Graiguenamanagh Fire STation Opening crew
Graiguenamanagh fire crew outside their new station.
Photo: (Courtesy Kilkenny County Council)

This construction project was funded by a contribution of €1.131 million from the Department’s Fire Service Capital Programme following an application from Kilkenny County Council. The Graiguenamanagh project has been delivered on time and on budget by McStan Construction, Purcellsinch Business Park, Kilkenny and designed by Tobin Consulting Engineers from Galway.

This is Kilkenny County Council’s fourth new fire station to be opened over the past number of years, with new fire stations being built in Castlecomer, Freshford and Callan. Funding of €1.1m for the construction of a fifth new fire station in Urlingford has been approved by government.

Speaking at the official opening, Minister John Paul Phelan, TD, said “this new station at Graiguenamanagh is excellently placed and designed to meet the requirements of our modern and developing fire service. My Department has been and continues to work with Kilkenny County Council, upgrading and developing the facilities and equipment of Kilkenny Fire and Rescue Service. Over the last number of years my Department has fully funded new fire stations in Castlecomer, Freshford and Callan. This level of support is continuing with the approval of €1.1m in funding for the construction of a new fire station at Urlingford.”

960 Graiguenamanagh Fire Station opening Deputy John Paul Phelan
Minister of State, Deputy John Paul Phelan T.D., speaking at official opening of Graiguenamanagh fire station.
Photo: (Courtesy Kilkenny County Council)

Kilkenny County Council has awarded a contract for the supply of 2 no. sets of structural firefighting clothing to all Fire Personnel at a cost of just under €180,000. Kilkenny’s Chief Fire Officer John Collins said recent severe weather has illustrated the value of the fire service to the community ‘our recent experiences of severe weather events illustrated very clearly the value and reassurance that a highly skilled and competent fire brigade brings to the Community, while working with the principal blue light services of which many of them are here today’

There are nine personnel stationed at Graiguenamanagh, which is one of seven stations in the county. The Minister took the opportunity to acknowledge, on behalf of the Government, the work of Kilkenny Fire and Rescue Service as part of the local authority led response who worked tirelessly during and in the aftermath of Storms such as Ophelia and Emma to protect the public, their homes, business premises, etc.

The Minister also referred to the importance afforded by the Department to fire fighter health, safety and welfare and to the training that fire service personnel undergo: “To this end my Department continues to support the up-skilling of fire fighters through the Fire Service Central Training Programme, which supplements local training initiatives, in ensuring staff are trained to carry out tasks effectively and safely.”

960 Graiguenamanagh Fire STation JP Phelan Dept Housing
Photo: (Courtesy Department of Housing)

In his concluding remarks, the Minister, thanked Kilkenny Fire and Rescue Service and in particular, Chief Fire Officer, John Collins: “The station is a credit to all involved in its development and completion.”

Emergency Times plans to visit Graiguenamangh in the coming weeks to visit the new fire station and it’s crew for a special feature.

Northern Ireland Ambulance staff suffer more than 1 assault a day

There are over 400 assaults on staff from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service each year, that’s more than one a day.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) has a zero-tolerance policy in relation to these assaults. Ambulance staff should not be subject to such behaviour, especially while they are providing care to patients. The vast majority of these incidents are not reported in the media, but that does not make them any less concerning. Any assault on ambulance staff is totally unacceptable and result in a reduction in cover to respond to calls from people who depend on our service.

Saturday and Sunday of last weekend saw several particularly serious assaults on NIAS staff, two of which involved staff requiring hospital attention. In one of these, a member of the ambulance’s frontline staff who has given over 40 years service to the community sustained injuries to his head, arms and body when attacked outside a hospital emergency department. His assailant was restrained by hospital security staff until the PSNI arrived. This is now an ongoing investigation.

960 NIAS Vehicles
Photo: (Northern Ireland Ambulance Service)

On Friday night, two EMDs and a Duty Control Manager experienced serious and unacceptable verbal abuse over three phone calls. Further action is expected to take place in these cases.

NIAS continues to work with Trade Unions and staff to ensure the appropriate levels of post incident care are provided to our staff who are victims of such abuse. Commenting on these incidents, NIAS Chief Executive, Michael Bloomfield, said: “I am deeply concerned about the frequency and level of ongoing abuse and assaults towards our highly committed and professional staff. A survey published last week by the Department of Health in which almost 7000 patients commented on their experience from arriving at hospital until they left, showed that 98% of patients said that ambulance staff behaved in a polite and courteous manner, and the same number (98%) said ambulance staff showed them care and compassion. The vast majority of patients value our staff for the excellent work they do, however regrettably a small number do not show them the same level of courtesy. This is unacceptable and NIAS believe that anyone found guilty of attacks on our staff should face the full rigour of the law.”

The Chief Executive wishes staff who were injured in these incidents a full and speedy recovery and said ambulance staff work in a very challenging environment and respond with professionalism to every call they are sent to, providing a high level of care to people at some of their most distressing and vulnerable times.

Unfortunately when incidents such as these occur, the level of ambulance cover is reduced and patients who need our service may wait longer, sometimes for life threatening treatment. I therefore call on the public’s support and that of public representatives in helping us bring these assaults to an end.”