Debate over fire training centre in Limerick town heats up as decision is due

Áine Fitzgerald

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Áine Fitzgerald

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aine.fitzgerald@limerickleader.ie

Debate over fire training centre in Limerick town up heats up as decision is due

If approved, the proposed training centre will be located at Kilmallock Business Park

A RETIRED station officer has warned that Limerick could lose out on being the location of a state-of-the-art fire service training centre if it doesn't get the green light at a “critical” council meeting this Thursday.

“If this doesn’t work out I would find it hard to imagine this facility going to another site in Limerick,” Greg Conway of Kilmallock told the Leader this week.

Last week a story on the front page of this paper outlined concerns raised by local councillor PJ Carey that the approval of the training centre in Kilmallock may result in the loss of a big employer, Dansko Foods, in the locality.

A special meeting in relation to the fire centre takes place in the town this Thursday when councillors of the Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district will vote on the matter.

Cllr PJ Carey is opposed to the planning application on an 8.5 acre site at Kilmallock Business Park saying that “if these plans go ahead none of these current businesses [in the business park] will ever be able to expand”.

“I believe the industrial estate should be kept as it is zoned - industrial. I work in the estate in lrema and worked there prior to this in Lynch Freight. No new businesses will ever be started there again. The interests of the people in the area, in my view, are best served by bringing employment into the industrial estate,” he stated last week.

However, according to Mr Conway, the benefits of the training centre to the town are immeasurable.

“Training firefighters is an essential part of firemanship and is a necessary requirement under health and safety. This training centre when operational would also act as a business for Limerick City and County Council and would be a big asset to the town in general as firefighters attending courses from other counties would require accommodation, meals, refreshments etc,” he said.

“I also understand the concerns that other businesses and industries have with their future developments but I do believe that an arrangement can be made to suit all involved. There was a plan some years ago to further expand and develop the business park on the Bruree Road but because of the slow uptake of units this development did not go ahead but maybe now is the time to revisit that plan.”

The planning application for the training centre is at an advanced stage and according to Mr Conway if this training centre does not get approval “then the council would have to find an alternative site, purchase it and get planning permission. This would take years.”

In relation to securing a site for the centre outside the town, Mr Conway said: “the thing about that is where we are looking at in this business park, all the services are there already - the sewerage, the water systems, everything. And to go to a green site and start all over again would cost a fortune which the council would not be able to do.”

Mr Conway said he understands the concerns some people may have in relation to parts of the training where fires would be lit in the smokehouse.

“These fires are managed in a controlled environment and by professional instructors. I have been to many training centres during my 37 years service and nearly all of them are built in the towns such as Clonmel, Bray, Hacketstown, Sligo etc,” he outlined. “I am calling on all of the councillors to seriously consider the benefits that this new training centre would bring to Kilmallock town. I trust that the councillors will make the right decision on Thursday and we can look forward to a prosperous future in Kilmallock.”

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