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Firefighters plan to sue council over 'defective' equipment

DUBLIN City Council is facing a number of legal actions by firefighters over breathing equipment they claim is defective and a threat to their lives.

One firefighter who suffered burns to his face last November, which he claims was the result of a faulty facemask, has engaged a solicitor with a view to starting legal action. Others are likely to follow, sources have indicated.

Separately, the Irish Fire and Emergency Service Association (IFESA) has sought legal advice over concerns the equipment is still in use despite its requests for a safety audit.

The issues relate to breathing apparatuses produced by the safety-equipment company Scott, concerns over which first emerged last January.

At that time firefighters in the IFESA -- a breakaway group from SIPTU -- complained of six separate malfunctions including effects to air supply and "collapsing" face masks.

Efforts to raise objections with Dublin City Council have proved fruitless, the union has claimed.

Risk

Neither Fire Brigade management nor the manufacturer, who said it is not aware of the pending litigation, responded to requests for comment.

An IFESA spokesman said: "We are just looking for a risk assessment in relation to the equipment and they have refused.

"The ultimate goal is to insure that the equipment we are using is safe. When it started, management said there were no issues at all and later they said they would look into it."

There are estimated to be between 250 and 300 sets in use in Dublin, which are routinely used during operations.

According to the IFESA, about 60 sets have been taken out of service in Dublin due to "low-level failures" and its concerns have been communicated to the Health and Safety Authority.

The legal actions are at an early stage and could take some time to appear before the courts.

Irish Independent