Firefighters 'have to be accompanied by gardaí' when deployed to high-risk areas on Bonfire night 

Bonfire Night, known to many Corkonians as Bonna Night, is celebrated on June 23 and involves communities lighting bonfires across the city.
Firefighters 'have to be accompanied by gardaí' when deployed to high-risk areas on Bonfire night 

Cork's second fire officer, Victor Shine said that antics on the night in recent years have put many firefighters in serious danger. Anti-social behaviour in many areas has become so intimidating firefighters have to be accompanied by Gardaí when deployed to high-risk areas.

Bonna night has prompted concern for the safety of firefighters following a number of assaults targeted at frontline workers desperately trying to keep the peace.

Bonfire Night, known to many Corkonians as Bonna Night, is celebrated on June 23 and involves communities lighting bonfires across the city.

Cork's second fire officer, Victor Shine said that antics on the night in recent years have put many firefighters in serious danger. Anti-social behaviour in many areas has become so intimidating firefighters have to be accompanied by Gardaí when deployed to high-risk areas.

He added that those responsible for the incidents have no understanding of the gravity of their actions.

The issue has now escalated to the extent that firefighters can be in danger before they even leave their fire trucks.

"Bonfire night is something we pay particular attention to. It's one of the nights where crew have their visors down in the appliance in areas deemed high risk to prevent glass entering a person's eye if it shatters."

The frontline worker described the range of injuries a firefighter can sustain.

"We have to be accompanied by Gardaí now when travelling to a lot of these incidents. Firefighters have had bottles and stones thrown at them on occasions where they are trying to make a situation safe. The most recent incident was a broken foot as a result of a concrete block being thrown."

He acknowledged that trauma to firefighters can have a ripple effect on their families.

"The people who do this don't see the consequences of what they are doing. Whether it be a block, stone or in this case a concrete block what is being experienced is a substantial situation. 

"What they are doing is putting a firefighter's career at risk. They are putting them out of work for weeks and causing significant worry for their families."

Mr Shine described how they often have to take measures for their own protection.

"Sometimes we have to hold back when there's a crowd until Gardaí arrive."

He stressed that firefighters only priority is to keep people safe.

"We don't self-deploy to bonfires. If we are there it's because the situation is deemed to be unsafe."

Now, locations across Cork have found an alternative to the event. “NonFire” night will take place tonight across six locations.

The collaborative event will be organised by Cork City Council and run in partnership with more than 50 community and statutory groups across the communities of Mayfield, The Glen, Mahon, Knocknaheeny, Farranree and Togher.

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Colm Kelleher (Fianna Fáil) said it was great to see such enthusiasm for the event.

“Now that we see life beginning to return to normal activities it is great to see the hunger for “NonFire” night events still alive across the communities with all organisng committees continuing their long-term commitment to delivering this fantastic family-friendly event across six of our city’s parks and green spaces.” 

Cork City Council and Cork City Fire Brigade is urging members of the public to refrain from supporting illegal bonfires in favour of organised events across the city's parks and green spaces.

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