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Firefighter fears at 'regular failure' of breathing sets


A member of Dublin Fire Brigade. File photo: Damien Eagers

A member of Dublin Fire Brigade. File photo: Damien Eagers

A member of Dublin Fire Brigade. File photo: Damien Eagers

DUBLIN City's firefighters claim essential breathing equipment used in emergency situations is faulty and unsafe.

The Irish Fire and Emergency Service Association (IFESA), which represents firefighters, is extremely concerned about "regular failures" of the Scott ACS FX BA breathing apparatus, it was claimed in the High Court.

The equipment is supplied by the firefighters' employer, Dublin City Council, and is required so they can breathe freely in smoke-filled environments.

The IFESA says matters were brought to head earlier this month when the breathing equipment used by two firefighters failed while they were tackling a blaze in Dolphins Barn. Despite making complaints, nothing has been done by the council to alleviate their concerns, it is claimed.

They want the equipment removed from service until their safety can be assured and an investigation is conducted into why a number of the breathing sets have failed.

The IFESA, and members John Kidd, Ross MacCobb and Geoff Tracey, have launched court proceedings against the council. They are seeking injunctions restraining the use of the breathing apparatus in the course of their duties until the equipment has been tested and independently deemed safe.

They also seek injunctions requiring the council to withdraw all its stock of the breathing apparatus in question until it is deemed safe to use



The application came before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, who yesterday granted permission to the IFESA to serve short notice of his injunction proceedings on the defendants. Permission was granted on a one side only represented basis.

The matter comes back before the court tomorrow.

Firefighter Geoff Tracey said in the early hours of January 5 last, while tackling a fire at Thomas Court, Dolphins Barn, he experienced "a complete failure of air supply causing the face mask on his equipment to collapse".

At the same time one of his colleagues, who was also using the Scott ACS FX, had a similar problem.

Both were required to exit the burning building in a hurry. Mr Tracey said both he and his colleague were "extremely distressed" at what had happened and were fortunate that they were able to escape from the building in time.

John Kidd, national chairperson of the IFESA, said 300 of the Scott ACS FX BA sets came into service in 2011.

By early 2012, 60 sets were taken out of service.