Councillor tells sides in Ballincollig fire station dispute to ‘sort it out’

Councillor tells sides in Ballincollig fire station dispute to ‘sort it out’

Ballincollig fire station. Picture Denis Minihane.

“STOP bickering and sort it out” was the advice of Ballincollig Fine Gael councillor Derry Canty in relation to the ongoing dispute between Cork City Fire Service and the local authority after an executive decision was made to close the suburban fire station.

Prior to the boundary extension that saw Ballincollig become part of the city, the local fire station was operated by part-time retained firefighters.

However, last year there was a recruitment drive for full-time positions within the city’s service, and five members of Ballincollig’s part-time crew were successful applicants.

This left a deficit of staff at the station, and for the past three months, firefighters from Anglesea and Ballyvolane were covering the station on a full-time basis, through overtime rostering, until Tuesday of last week, when the decision was taken by Cork City Council’s executive to close the station completely.

The council has said that fire service cover remains in place for the whole of Cork City, and said that “when the city boundary was extended to include Ballincollig over two and a half years ago, Ballincollig Fire Service was a retained fire service and this remains the position”.

File image of Fire service personnel at the scene of the fire. Picture: David Keane.
File image of Fire service personnel at the scene of the fire. Picture: David Keane.

Billy Crowley, union representative with Cork City Fire Brigade, said Ballincollig Fire Station is badly needed. He pointed out that Ballincollig was the only station before Macroom on that side of the city, covering an extensive area.

He wants to see the station reopened and manned by crews from the other two city stations, and is also calling for another recruitment drive.

The most recent recruitment drive will see 18 new members join the ranks following their training, but Mr Crowley believes further recruitment is warranted.

“It takes two years, from advertisement in the paper to recruitment, training, probation, and becoming a fully-fledged member of the fire service,” he said.

“We are asking that the Ballincollig station be reopened and we cover the station while a recruitment drive is ongoing and until we have the numbers to man it independently.”

The Fire Service has asked the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to step in to mediate the dispute.

Ballincollig Fianna Fáil councillor Colm Kelleher, the mayor of Cork City, told The Echo that he was given an estimate of €3m for the annual running of a full-time service in Ballincollig, and said he would be engaging with the council executive to explore all opportunities in relation to providing this service.

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