Members of Bray Municipal District unanimously supported motions by Cllrs Dermot O'Brien and Aoife Flynn to review the fire service in Bray.
Cllr O'Brien's notice of motion read: 'That this council calls for a full and independent review of the Bray Fire Service as a matter of urgency. The rapidly changing landscape of the greater Bray area both in terms of commercial and residential development requires a fire service that is functioning at an appropriate and sustainable operational capacity.'
Cllr Flynn Kennedy's motion was: Wicklow County Council should commission a report to re-examine the requirement for a full-time Fire service for Bray. On December 1, 2014, a report was issued on the provision of a full-time Fire Service for Bray. This report was based on a number of data sources, including population data from the 2011 census. Giving consideration to the population growth in Bray, Enniskerry, Kilmacanogue and surrounding areas, the increased development both in terms of residential and commercial units and the length of time since the last assessment was carried out, a review of the current services and future needs are now required to ensure adequate service provision can be planned.'
'This is an issue which is going to effect the entire community,' said Cllr Flynn Kennedy. 'Both myself and Cllr O'Brien have practically the same motion on the table. It's an issue close to both our hearts.
'The town is growing and growing,' she said. 'The fire service is not growing to the same extent.'
Cllr Flynn Kennedy said that there are currently approximately seven vacancies for the fire service. 'I'm delighted to see it's being advertised for,' she said.
Cllr Flynn Kennedy said that she has had cause to contact the fire service. 'Their professionalism and empathy knows no bounds,' she said. She said that the fire station on Schools Road is a facility which can accommodated a full time fire service.
'The current model isn't sustainable,' said Cllr Dermot O'Brien. 'When we want to propose change there is an obligation to provide a report laying out the rationale. Going through the motions of a report doesn't serve the purpose of looking at the future of the town.
'I'm sure we have all met and spoken to fire fighters who work there and I don't know how they do it.'
He described a fire fighter explaining that they are always thinking they might get a call, and thinking about how many traffic lights they have to get through to get to the station. 'I don't know how any human can function that way and flourish,' said Cllr O'Brien.
'I have spoken to people who were in the fire service and it wasn't sustainable for them.
'I know people have been fighting for this for a long time. I can't speak to why it hasn't happened before,' said Cllr O'Brien.
He said that the town is set to grow by around 5,000 or 6,000 people.
Cllr Grace McManus said that reading reports from 2007 and 2014, the fire fighter well-being part is missing. 'That should be included,' she said. 'They are under pressure. 'I find driving in Bray stressful, never mind trying to get to an emergency. We should explicitly push to include that,' she said. Cllr Joe Behan welcomed the motions and said he would be delighted to support them. 'This is long overdue and one of the great items of unfinished business,' he said. 'The fact that there is still no full-time fire service is a huge disadvantage.'
Cllr Behan recalled former councillor Brigid Hannon's determination regarding the old flats at Fassaroe in the 1980s.
'One of her big issues was the old flats at Fassaroe and the condition they were in,' he said. 'At every council meeting she proposed the flats be knocked and replaced with houses. She was told it can't be done, we'll never get the money.'
Eventually, Liz McManus went on to become minister of state for housing, and approved the funding. 'Brigid Hannon said she would dance on the table in the chamber when she got the news - I can't recall if she did!
'But it taught me a lesson early,' said Cllr Behan. 'If you have an objective you really believe in, and you're willing to fight, it can happen and it will happen. The first step is we agree unanimously on your motions and pursue it relentlessly until it happens.'
Cllr Erika Doyle added her support to what had been said. 'This has been going on so long,' she said. 'Sometimes we hear that it will take somebody dying for something to happen. The works has happened to this town several times. How many more will it take? We need to operate as a unit on this. I am more than happy to add my name to this.' She thanked Cllr O'Brien and Cllr Flynn Kennedy for the motions.
Cllr Melanie Corrigan also agreed with what everyone had said. 'We have to really push this,' she said. 'We all feel strongly about this and want to see it through. And we can dance on the tables afterwards!'
Cllr Rory O'Connor added his support and he paid tribute to the level of dedication of the relatives of the late Teresa Cahill. Prior to Covid-19 they stood outside each monthly meeting in Bray since Teresa and her son Christopher died in a fire in Oldcourt in 2001.