ABBEYFEALE fire station reopened this Monday, having been closed for 10 days by Limerick City and County Council on health and safety grounds.
But the resumption of the service in Abbeyfeale is based on drafting in fire fighters from other parts of Limerick.
And while this step has been welcomed by local councillors, they want a more lasting and long-term solution.
“This is fine in the short term,” Cllr Francis Foley (FF) said this Wednesday. An extra 15- minute wait for a fire unit to come from Newcastle West, Castleisland or Listowel was unacceptable and could have had serious repercussions, he pointed out. “But we need to get this sorted once and for all and get a long-term solution.”
Fellow councillor Liam Galvin (FG) agreed. “I am happy enough the fire service has resumed. I am thankful the town now has a service again. But the problems are far from being solved. And I hope the council will put resources into finding a lasting solution,” he said.
Limerick City and County Council, announced a three-week shut-down of the Abbeyfeale service on September 26, saying it was due to the fact that five members of the brigade are currently on sick leave. Coupled with a recent retirement, this meant there were no longer the minimum six fire-fighters available on call to operate the fire unit and for health and safety reasons the council decided on the temporary closure.
According to local councillor Seamus Browne (SF), who met the chief fire officer along with the other councillors from Abbeyfeale, the council had rejected the idea of redeployment.
But last Friday, just one week after the initial announcement, the council announced the fire-service in Abbeyfeale would resume this Monday.
Chief fire officer Michael Ryan confirmed that retained firefighters from elsewhere throughout Limerick would operate on a shift basis at Abbeyfeale Fire Station allowing normal service to resume. It is understood that this means that on-call firefighters have to be accomodated in the town.
“Over the past week, all incidents normally responded to by the Abbeyfeale Fire Brigade have been dealt with by brigades in Listowel, Newcastle West and Castleisland Fire Stations, “ Mr Ryan said and he thanked those brigades for their assistance. He also thanked the retained firefighters whose cooperation had allowed the re-opening of the station.
Siptu official, Con Casey, told the Limerick Leader last week the union was extremely unhappy with the council’s decision to close Abbeyfeale. He also explained that the union had an issue with the council over what he called the imposed retirement of a firefighter. But Mr Casey was not available this Wednesday to give an update on their ongoing discussions with the council.