County fire fighters attack new crash ‘policy’

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

THE HEAD of the county Limerick fire service has denied that she has ordered fire fighters to not attend the scene of a road crash unless a person is trapped in a car, despite claims from rank-and-file members that this new informal policy is being rolled out across the county.

THE HEAD of the county Limerick fire service has denied that she has ordered fire fighters to not attend the scene of a road crash unless a person is trapped in a car, despite claims from rank-and-file members that this new informal policy is being rolled out across the county.

Chief fire officer Carmel Kirby insisted that there has been “no change in policy” despite claims from several sources within the fire service that the standard practice, in which they are called immediately when a crash takes place, has been scrapped.

A number of fire fighters, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Limerick Leader that Ms Kirby has met with senior gardai in Newcastle West and instructed them not to call for the fire service’s help at a crash unless someone needs to be cut out of a car.

Ms Kirby denied that this meeting had taken place and said that there have been “no changes whatsoever” to policy. “The fire service will still respond to any call out where we are requested”, she said.

Sources within the county Limerick fire service said that ordinary fire fighters fear that “lives may be lost” as a result of the new policy, which they claim has already seen the fire service not called out to two crashes near Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale in recent days.

“It’s absolutely scandalous”, one member said. “Lives will be lost. We talk about ‘the golden hour’ in crashes, which can be the difference between life and death for someone.

“If the gardai have to go out to a crash before they know if it’s serious enough to call us, that’s valuable time lost”.

Another member said that the failure to call out the fire service could create serious dangers for gardai and ambulance staff who may have to attend a crash without support.