'Joint service is vital when response time is a matter of life and death'
Tara Street fire station's district officer Donal Petherbridge becomes emotional when speaking about the possibility of the break-up of the fire and medical rescue service he has been part of for 31 years.
The father-of-four (52) grew up in Glasnevin and has worked in every fire station in the city.
He is among the firefighters working for Dublin City Council who are expected to soon announce a campaign of industrial action over plans to break-up the only joint fire and ambulance response service in the country. "We had the busiest year in history from the medical side of it last year," he said.
"We had 160,000 emergency calls. We responded to 87,000 medical calls and 60,000 fire and rescue calls.
"Our response time is very good and the survival rate from early intervention in emergencies like a stroke are very high. When there is a road traffic collision on a winter's morning, our crew can extract people from cars and ensure the scene is safe. My main fear with the new service is there might be a fragmented response.
"The key is a simultaneous response. Can you imagine how critically important time is in a response situation? "The amount of interventions that the guys can do, it just saves lives. It's been tweaked and improved since the fire service was set up in 1862 and the ambulances came on board in 1898. We are the oldest uniformed body in the State. We are strategically located around the city and know every back street. It's seamless."