Fire staff shortages referred to safety authority

Fórsa has raised concerns about ongoing staff shortages in Dublin fire brigade with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). This came after Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) talks aimed at alleviating staffing problems collapsed last Monday (27th September).

The union highlighted a serious shortage of fire brigade staff – estimated to be 20% – in the WRC talks. It said this was placing both the public and firefighters at risk.

The union presented its concerns to the Health and Safety Authority yesterday, and highlight the unsafe conditions associated with staff shortages in the emergency service.

Dessie Robinson, who heads Fórsa’s two local authority divisions, said the high risk and safety concerns surrounding the issue led the union to report to the HSA.

“The firefighters have made an invaluable contribution during the last year, despite being short-staffed and encountering risk to themselves and their families when they were call-out,” he said.

Fórsa and Siptu, who both represent firefighters, have described the staff shortages as “completely unacceptable.”

“Dublin City Council and the minister must now ensure that Dublin fire brigade’s calls for increased staffing levels, and an improvement to working conditions to enhance recruitment into the service, are heeded as a matter of urgency,” said Dessie.

The understaffing concerns are further amplified in the lead-up to Halloween, when firefighters encounter additional risks and workloads.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council maintains that management is engaging with the unions through the WRC conciliation process.

Reports suggest six appliances were off the road across Dun Laoghaire, Rathfarnham, North Strand, Phibsboro, and Tara Street stations on Tuesday due to low staff levels. A further seven appliances were without a staff member, and another two operated in the absence of two members of staff.