Wednesday 22 October 2014

Payouts for firefighters attacked and injured in line of duty

Martin Frawley

Published 10/02/2014 | 02:30

The growing number of attacks on fire brigades is troubling
The growing number of attacks on fire brigades is troubling

Firefighters who have been attacked with bricks, knives and even rockets while on callouts in the capital are set to finally get a scheme to compensate them for any injuries suffered.

The Labour Court recommended that Dublin City Council, which employs 800 full-time firefighters, and Siptu and Impact, should discuss the introduction of a compensation scheme for firefighters who are assaulted by third parties in the course of their work.

The court said that these discussions should cover the scope, cost and legal status of such a scheme as well as any legislative changes necessary to give effect to the scheme.

Siptu and Impact have been pressing the local authority for a compensation scheme and, while agreement in principle had been reached, it was put on the back-burner for the past couple of years.

A 2010 survey found that there had been 142 incidents of physical assault and violence against firefighters and ambulance crew in the previous two years.

These included emergency crews being head-butted, bitten, exposed to blood and threatened with pitchforks and knives.

In one incident, firefighters were shot at while attending a fire.

In 2012, a Fianna Fail-sponsored bill, which proposed a minimum five-year sentence for anybody convicted of assaulting or threatening the life of a frontline emergency worker, was defeated in the Dail.

Brendan O'Brien of Siptu said that while such incidents were not an everyday occurrence, firefighters had been subjected to criminal attacks while on duty.

The unions argued at the Labour Court that a compensation scheme operated for gardai, prison officers and psychiatric nurses.

CONCERNS

Dublin City Council told the Labour Court that it had "several concerns" before it could consider such a scheme and that the issue should be addressed at national level.

The council noted that firefighters injured as a result of an assault continued to receive full pay while absent.

While firefighters were compensated for occupational injuries suffered while tackling fires, there was no scheme to compensate them when they were assaulted by third parties and had to pursue compensation through the courts, which could involve costly legal fees, said Mr O'Brien.

Irish Independent

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