Limerick Fire and Rescue Service held a Demonstration Day at Mulgrave Station to outline and demonstrate the variety of skills and equipment the fire service has to offer to protect persons and property in Limerick
From fires and road traffic accidents to major flooding, river rescues, freak weather conditions and other emergencies, Limerick Fire and Rescue Service works to create a safer society by reducing the incidence of death or injury, damage to property and environmental damage caused by fire and by other emergencies.
The range and complexity of tasks which are undertaken by Limerick Fire and Rescue service continues to expand. In the last number of years responses to hazardous substances and environmental incidents have been added to the fire services scope of operations. In addition there has been a significant increase in the number of road traffic accidents and the range of equipment and procedures, which the fire service operates, continues to expand accordingly.
Under the control of the Chief Fire Officer, Michael Ryan, staffing consists of a combination of highly trained whole time and retained fire-fighters, along with senior officers, fire engineering staff and technical and administrative back up.
- Limerick’s fire fighters provide a fire and rescue emergency response to incidents around the City and County, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Limerick Fire and Rescue Service has 184 staff and 140 Civil Defence Volunteers
- Approximately 1,600 incidents are attended to on an annual basis including a large number of river rescues
- Whole time fire fighters train each day they are on duty
- Sixty whole time fire fighters are based in Mulgrave Street in the city centre and 72 retained fire fighters as well as a full time brigade mechanic across six fire stations in the county.
- The six stations in County Limerick are Abbeyfeale, Cappamore, Foynes, Kilmallock, Newcastle West and Rathkeale.
- Every year in Ireland approximately 50 people die in fires.
Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Scott Keenan says planning, organisation and hard work is the key to the success in providing a fire and rescue service to the 191,000 people living, working and visiting Limerick.
“Each retained Fire Station in the county is managed by a Station Officer, and in the whole time station in Limerick we operate a four-watch (shift) system where a Station Officer manages each watch. We have 12 fire fighters on duty in the whole time station in Mulgrave Street as a minimum every single day of the year,” Scott explained.
“The retained fire-fighters based in County Limerick must reside within two miles of the station, and be on call for incidents and attend regular training - it really is a huge commitment. But all this training pays off on busy weekends, like we saw particularly last year during the month of February when we were exceptionally busy during Storm Darwin which wreaked havoc across Limerick and during the major flooding incident in King’s Island.”
Regular training forms a vital part of a Limerick fire fighters experience. A high proportion of their career is spent training and re-training as they have to use this experience to allow them operate effectively on the fire ground. Whole time fire fighters train each day that they are on duty and in retained stations the fire fighters train for at least 2 hours each week and during this time all equipment is checked and maintained.
Limerick Fire and Rescue service carry out a large number of river rescues and 48 members have qualified as Swift Water Rescue Technicians (SRTs) so they can respond within seconds to water rescues.
“We are delighted to formally put into service shortly our new custom made power boat,” Scott continued. “Our crews have been trained on the new 4.6 metre RIB which has been specially developed for the Fire Service and specifically designed for the characteristics of the river Shannon. The power boat will be used in conjunction with inflatable rescue sleds to enable rapid deployment on the river to rescue a person in distress. The SRTs wear dry suits, flotation devices and helmets which are all designed for water rescue use, and with the addition of our new power boat, we’re fully equipped for river rescues.”
As well as Operations Response, Limerick Fire and Rescue Service operates a fire prevention and building control section, a building inspection and enforcement function and maintains a major emergency plan for the City and County. It also operates the Munster Regional Communications Centre which is the emergency call handling and processing centre for all fire service 999/112 calls in Munster.
Over the next few months, the service will undertake an extensive public awareness promotion of fire safety, and continue to actively educate the community about fire prevention measures participating in school visits, talks to community groups, and media fire safety campaigns, particularly for Fire Safety Week.
“Most of the fire deaths that occur in people’s homes occur at night,” Scott Keenan said. “Fire Prevention is a huge part of our role as the biggest killer is smoke, not heat or flames, as smoke travels well ahead of a fire. If you are asleep when a fire occurs in your home, the smoke generated will put you into an even deeper sleep. Installing a smoke alarm will give you time to escape before fumes and smoke can build up.”
As well as Fire Safety Week, the Fire Service offers safety talks to community groups, hold fire station open days and also host and visit primary schools promoting safety to children.
Photos: Fusion Shooters