Full-time fire service cover must return to Enniskillen

Cross-Community Labour Councillor for Enniskillen Donal O’Cofaigh has written to the Chief Officer of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service to obtain a date when a full-time fire station will return to the county.

“I have written to NI Fire and Rescue Chief Officer Michael Graham to ask him when the full time complement will return to Enniskillen Fire Station.

“At the commencement of the COVID-19 lockdown, the full-time team based in Enniskillen was moved to Omagh. From firefighters themselves I understood this to be a short-term measure related to contingency planning around the pandemic. We recognised that there was relatively less risk on being dependent on part-time firefighters when most on-call firefighters were already at home but nonetheless it has been an issue that I’ve been closely monitoring.

“Given that now many more workers are returning to their workplaces continued reliance on part-time, call out responders poses very significantly more risk. Fermanagh is the most rural county in Northern Ireland – the distances involved can be huge. Reliance on part-time call out results in extra seconds and even minutes of delay for these workers to get to the station – that can mean all the difference. Like anywhere else, Fermanagh needs a full-time fire station. 

“There was no explanation or even notice offered to the public around the original decision but even less why and how long this measure needs to continue. Only a few months ago I had to raise a defence of our full time service in the council – proposals to slash full-time cover were being brought forward at that time because of NI Executive cutbacks – we can’t want allow even deeper cuts to come through the backdoor with Covid-19 used as the excuse!”, Cllr O’Cofaigh said.

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