FIREFIGHTERS took to the streets of Dublin yesterday to protest against a Department of Environment plan they claim will put lives at risk.
Around 200 emergency service workers marched to raise concerns over proposed cuts to the number of firefighters who attend an emergency from six to four.
Firefighters fear cuts will increase the risk for both the public and the responding crews.
John McNally, a fire officer stationed in Swords, feels the proposed changes are also a "contradiction" to the objective of the initiative.
"The plan is to reduce firefighter numbers, which is only putting the public and the firefighters at risk, as you have less firefighters responding to an emergency," he said.
"It's also a contradiction. It's called the Keep Communities Safe plan, but what they're in fact doing is the complete opposite.
Siptu National Full-time Firefighter Committee chairman Brendan Carroll believes the department's implementations are breaching national agreements.
"The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government began the process in January of seeking to implement changes under its Keeping Communities Safe plan that threaten the effectiveness of the fire services," he said.
"In seeking to implement crew reductions, the department appears to be authorising fire services to unilaterally breach national agreements, including the Code of Practice for Emergency Services, by attempting to force through changes without taking account of union concerns or carrying out the relevant risk assessments," Mr Carroll said.
Minister Alan Kelly said the aim is "to strengthen and enhance the fire service in Ireland".
"The door remains open to Siptu and other trade union bodies for further talks on the future operation of the fire services," he said.
"Keep Communities Safe also provides considerable flexibility for local arrangements and there is nothing in it that places members of the public at risk."