Friday, September 17, 2021

Sarah Slater

A 91-year-old man who fell in the garden of his house was left lying on the ground for three hours awaiting emergency medical treatment — despite having two Dublin Fire Brigade stations located close to his home — as a row over staffing levels rages.

The incident occurred on Thursday evening in Kinvara Park, on the Navan Road in Dublin 7, close to Phibsborough and Finglas Fire Stations. It is understood a neighbour found the man and phoned for emergency services to attend the scene.

Former Dublin Lord Mayor and Independent councillor Christy Burke was informed of the incident and said: “When no ambulance was arriving he phoned a DFB employee who told him to say that he thought the man was having a heart attack in a bid to get attention faster.

“However, and appallingly, this poor man was left waiting for three hours. This man is not a statistic, he is the reality of what is happening in the capital’s homes and streets. This is just one case of the pressure DFB staff are dealing with. Staffing levels are just simply not safe.

“It is absolutely disgusting not only that the man had to wait three hours but the fact that this man’s neighbour had to be told to exaggerate his medical condition in order to get emergency care. Dublin Fire Brigade are stretched to the limit and it’s quite obvious they need more resources due to low staffing levels. There needs to be double the number of current recruits.”

Lower-than-agreed staffing levels

Currently the agreed number of fire personnel is 965, which forms part of an agreement reached in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) back in 2015.

However, in a statement Dublin City Council (DCC) said the service is 31 staff below the agreed levels.

“There are 35 recruits in training. Dublin Fire Brigade management and Unions agreed a minimum staffing level for operations in the Fire Brigade.

“Since then management has made every effort to comply with that agreement. It is also proposed to have a further intake of recruits as early as possible following the pass-out of the current class at the end of this year.”

An unsafe system of work is the norm

The union Siptu said Dublin Fire Brigade members have no agreement with Dublin City Council or management to provide a service which entails reduced manning.

Brendan O’Brien, Siptu organiser said: “To accept or condone such a practice or arrangement, would acknowledge the acceptance of a work practice where an unsafe system of work is the norm and the non-implementation of the law.

“To suggest that unions representing professional firefighters would entertain a system which is little more than a numbers lottery as a morally responsible way to manage an emergency service, is a total misrepresentation of the truth.

“We call upon each Dublin City Council and the councillors in the other three Dublin authorities to immediately demand that the Chief Executive and the Chief Fire Officer comply with their vicarious liabilities of duty in law and in doing so, ensure the appropriate level for manning is put in place within the DFB in order for the service to operate in a safe manner.”

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