Concerns that fire fighters are being put at risk by having to enter houses and commercial buildings which have asbestos roofs, were aired at the New Ross Municipal District meeting.
Cllr Anthony Connick said there are hundreds of houses with asbestos in the town.
“Albatros cleaned up their own site. I don’t want the council to pick up the bill. Do the fire crew have the resources and manpower to deal with all of them?” he said.
Chief fire Officer Paul L’Estrange said: “I would imagine if there are additional resources required in New Ross we can draw down resources from Enniscorthy, Wexford or Kilkenny. I would say the Wexford Fire Service is in a particularly good place when it comes to responding to these type of incidents.”
He said there are around 14,500 address code commercial sites in Co Wexford and the fire service has a risk assessment system for them.
He said the system focuses on the top 500 to 800 riskiest buildings and plans are developed for switching off gas, electricity etc.
“This is for when a station officers arrives at 3 or 4 a.m. so they can draw the information down. I am not aware of any deficiencies we have.”
Cllr Connick said the Barrowland ballroom is one building which would be of concern.
“There are also a lot of garages around the back of Barrack Lane. It’s fine when they are dormant but are the owners going to foot the bill? We’ve had problems where €250,000 had to be spent on a building on John Street.”
Mr L’Estrange said there is a fund the council can draw down from, adding that clients are charged around €700 an hour for commercial call outs.
He said firemen and women are protected from asbestos by their breathing apparatus equipment and gas-tight suits, adding that in asbestos buildings on fire the closer you are to the flame the better as asbestos fibres pollute the area beyond.
“We set up a cordon. There are a number of techniques to protect people.”
Cllr Michael Whelan asked if problems can arise when the fire service can’t track down who owns a premises to bill hem.
“If we do a pre-assessment and we can’t find the owner that can cause an issue,” Mr L’Estrange said.
He said fire fighters are primarily reactionary. “We do our best to get all the information we can but we wouldn’t always get all of the information we’d like to get.”