Monday 26 September 2016

Fire fighters to walk off job over staff shortages

Published 27/08/2015 | 02:30

Dublin City Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan
Dublin City Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan

Parts of the capital face being without a fire service in the coming months after members of Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over staff shortages.

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Trade union Siptu said 96pc of their members voted in favour of industrial action, while 87pc indicated they were also in favour of taking strike action.

The results of the ballot were announced yesterday and the DFB Siptu Dispute Committee will meet in the coming days to decide their next step.

If they do decide to take strike action, it means that many stations in Dublin city and county will be without a large number of staff during the action period.

This result comes after a dispute with Dublin City Council, which the union claims was "provoked by a decision of the Chief Executive of Dublin City Council (Owen Keegan) to renege on an agreement on recruiting new firefighters".

"Our members in DFB have been exposed by management to increased and unacceptable levels of risk," according to Siptu DFB convener Gerry Harris.

"Our members in DFB share the concerns expressed by the Chief Fire Officer and DCC senior management, that the changed recruitment process will not deliver the required numbers and will delay the employment of new firefighters," he added.

The union said an open, national competition to fill the vacancies had been agreed to in May, but claimed that instead a confined competition is taking place.

"We do not have a difficulty with a confined competition. Except for the fact that his own senior management team, including the Chief Fire Officer, has advised him that it will not deliver the required numbers.

"And this will only send to delay the process or bring DFB back to their critical state of minimum manning levels," Mr Harris said last night.

Accident

There are approximately 800 members of staff in DFB and Siptu said they represent "the vast majority".

The union are calling on Mr Keegan to "uphold the agreement he reached with the trade unions" in May, as they fear the current staffing levels may lead to "somebody having an accident".

"Last Saturday, we were understaffed by 25 personnel in Dublin, that is the equivalent of five fire engines out of 20. The five fire engines were still on the road, it's just that the crewing levels were not correct," Mr Harris said.

"That means the safest work cannot be maintained for the firefighters and that they can't put together the drills it requires when they attend a fire to protect the public."

DCC said they have "noted" the outcome of the ballot and are "engaging with the trade union directly on the issues raised".

Siptu believes that DFB is currently understaffed by 70 firefighters.

Irish Independent

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