The Irish Chief Fire Officers Association has described the outbreak of gorse, bog and forest fires throughout the country as ‘unprecedented’.
Over the weekend hundreds of Fire Service personnel attended to scores of fires in counties Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo, Longford, Cavan, Roscommon, Offaly, Louth, Westmeath, Clare, Galway and Mayo. Attempts are continuing to control and contain fires in several counties.
Speaking ahead of the CFOA Annual Conference and Technology Exhibition in County Limerick tomorrow, Chief Fire Officer (Clare) and CFOA Vice Chairman Adrian Kelly said: “The last few days have been one of the busiest periods for the Fire service nationwide in recent years. Indeed, the geographical spread of separate incidents across the country is unprecedented. This has placed a huge strain on Fire Services in the affected counties.”
He added: “Many of the fires that broke out over the weekend have been controlled at this stage but efforts are continuing to contain other fires. A combination of strong winds and the continuing dry conditions exacerbated the situation by causing fires to spread, particularly across Donegal. The arrival of rain in affected areas over the next 48 hours will provide a significant boost to emergency services in tackling the continuing threat of fires.”
Mr. Kelly said the CFOA “condemns” individuals who had started fires deliberately.
“Such reckless actions have placed the lives of both members of the local community and also Firefighters at risk. These fires have also destroyed hundreds of acres of gorse land, forestry and bogs, with negative consequences for property, tourism and wildlife.”
“The CFOA would like to compliment Fire Service personnel who, along with members of local communities in the affected areas, have worked tirelessly to ensure that the risk posed by fire to life and property has been minimised. The Interagency approach to tackling these incidents, comprising Fire Service, the Defence Forces, Coillte and other forestry services, Civil Defence, and members of the public, has highlighted the benefits of dealing with major incidents in a collaborative manner.
“The CFOA appeals to members of the public, and particularly landowners, to familiarise themselves with the latest Department of Agriculture advice relating to forest, gorse and bog fires. Members of the public are advised to check detailed information regarding the controlled burning of lands on the Department of Agriculture website, www.agriculture.gov.ie”, Mr Kelly commented.
He said that the events of recent days underlined the critical need to maintain investment in the Fire Service.
He explained: “The dedication, competence and bravery of our retained Firefighters and full-time staff has been repeatedly highlighted in recent days. Continued Government investment is required to ensure the delivery of efficient frontline services.”
Fire Service personnel and industry experts from across Ireland and Europe will participate in the 54th annual Chief Fire Officers Association Conference which will be held in Adare, County Limerick on tomorrow and Thursday, 4-5 May 2011.
The theme of the conference is “Adapting to Uncertain Times – Future Challenges for the Fire And Rescue Service”.
Among the topics to be discussed will be the impact of man-made and natural disasters on the Fire Service, reorganisation within the Fire Service, achieving excellence in the Fire Service, development of Fire Cover, a national perspective on planning for change, Business Continuity Management, and Fire Safety in the Community.
The Conference keynote speaker is Goran Schnell of the Swedish Fire Service who will be exploring the future challenges for tomorrow’s Fire Service.
Other speakers scheduled to address the two-day conference include Peter Craig, Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service; Peter Holland, President of the UK Chief Fire Officers’ Association; and Sean Hogan, Director, National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management.
Conference Secretary and Chief Fire Officer for Limerick County Fire and Rescue Service, Carmel Kirby said that Fire Service personnel will use this year’s Conference as an opportunity to focus on the changing environment in which the Service presently operates.
Ms. Kirby added: “This week’s conference will feature expert speakers within the Emergency Services Sector and the Fire Technology/Industry from Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland and the UK who with their experience, knowledge and wisdom in different aspects of the Fire Service will attempt to provide innovative thoughts and ideas about how the service can achieve such success in the current challenging operating environment. The Conference will also provide a forum for those employed in the public sector and those engaged in private practice to come together to discuss topical issues.”.
“The ability of the Fire Service to adapt to these challenging times is testament to the commitment and excellence of those who work in the service”, she explained.
The annual showcase event for Ireland’s Fire and Emergency Services sector will also feature a Fire Industry and Technology Exhibition.
The CFOA comprises the Chief Fire Officers of all Local Authorities in Ireland. The Association is also a member of the Federation of European Fire officers Associations and attends their twice yearly meetings.
For more visit www.cfoa.net.
Notes To Editor:
- Adrian Kelly (087-2342425), CFOA Vice-Chairperson and Clare Chief Fire Officer is available for interview and further comment
- Members of the media are invited to attend. Photograph and interview opportunities will be provided. The full Conference programme may be viewed at http://www.dunphypr.com/?p=5602 Press 22 (061-204222) will provide images (no reproduction fee) on Wednesday.