Louth’s Chief Fire Officer Eamonn Woulfe attended the most recent sitting of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) last Monday at the request of the Chairperson Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne.
Mr. Woulfe gave an informative presentation to the SPC on the recently published report reviewing Fire Safety in Ireland giving Councillors, PPN reps and Union delegates the opportunity to discuss the changes and recommendations suggested.
The report, comprised in the aftermath of Grenfell, initiated a broader review of fire safety legislation and policy, with many recommendations including a focus on high-rise buildings, multi-unit social housing blocks, Community Fire Safety, Integrated Risk Management and legislative responsibility among others.
A major area of concern highlighted by Cllr Byrne is the current issue of Recruitment and Job Retention among the retained ranks of Firefighters in Louth and the impact on the implementation of the recommendations in the Report given that the numbers, especially in Drogheda, is depleting at an alarming rate.
Cllr Byrne said “The retained crew in Drogheda is massively under-resourced, by a third in fact and deteriorating by the week. A major investment needs to be put into recruitment for this particular area and incentives made available to retain current firefighters. We cannot continue to stand idly by and watch these deeply valued public servants leave the service, in particular from the retained ranks who are a solid support to the full-time crew.”
Cllr Byrne called on the Chief Fire Officer to review a multitude of things which she believes are essential and of the upmost importance;
- a major recruitment drive supported by a Social Media campaign
- an overall review of the retained/full-time structures within the county
- work with the Director of Services for Housing to establish suitable housing structures in the vicinity of the Fire Station to accommodate retained firefighters.
Cllr Joanna Byrne said “it is no longer enough expressing our appreciation of this valuable frontline service, it’s time to support them properly and put investment where it is needed.”