With the emergency services most busy time of year just around the corner, here is what you need to know about Dublin's firefighter shortage.
Why are there staff shortages in Dublin Fire Brigade?
Currently, the agreed number of fire personnel for staffing Dublin's Fire Brigade service is 965, which forms part of an agreement reached in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) back in 2015.
However, there are only 930 currently working in the service with a further 35 in training who will not be available until January.
As reported in The Irish Times, SIPTU have said the current situation "is a direct consequence of the senior management in Dublin City Council and Dublin Fire Brigade not having a proper plan in place for the recruitment of firefighters.”
It is expected that there will be more shortfalls in staffing with an “unprecedented” number of retirements due.
With the new recruits being unavailable until January, it is expected that there will be shortages for the rest of 2021.
SIPTU has called for the minimum number of staff to be increased from 965 to meet demand.
Dublin City Council (DCC) and Dublin Fire Brigade management have recently said they are continuing to engage with the unions through the conciliation process as set out at the WRC.
Both DCC and Dublin Fire Brigade management said significant time and resources have been committed to help find an agreement.
Furthremore, DCC management have stated that it is also proposed to have a further intake of recruits as early as possible following the pass-out of the current class at the end of this year.
Are shortages affecting services?
Appliances have been left off the road and in some cases operating without the required level of staff.
On September 27th, six appliances were left off the road in Rathfarnham, Dun Laoghaire, North Strand, Phibsborough and Tara Street.
The same day, nine appliances operated without the required level of staff: seven appliances were short-staffed by one firefighter and the other two appliances were down by two staff members each.
Staff shortages have also affected the response time of the emergency service.
In one case, a 91-year-old man was left lying on the ground for three hours as he waited for the emergency services.
This happened despite there being two Dublin Fire Brigade stations located close to his home.
SIPTU has been consistently warning that the continued staffing shortage is putting both firefighters and the public at risk.
What about the rest of the country?
Other cities across the State do not seem to be experiencing the same staffing issues as in Dublin.
In a statement about staffing, Galway County Council said it had no concerns.
“Galway Fire & Rescue Service, through a Shared Service Agreement, provide the service for both the City and County with approximately 166 firefighters employed across the geographical area,” a council spokesperson told breakingnews.ie.
“Whilst Vacancies and recruitment are part and parcel of operations on an ongoing basis the council continues to fulfil its emergency response obligations throughout the City and County.
“There is absolutely no concern about our ability to deliver an emergency service over Halloween or at any other time of the year.”
Limerick City and County Council have commented that Limerick Fire and Rescue Service is not experiencing any staff shortages.
Cork City Council said Cork City Fire Brigade has recently welcomed 17 new full time recruits who started their training on Wednesday with a plan for a further 17 recruits to be hired in 2022.
“Cork City Fire Brigade is well positioned to provide fire cover for the Cork City area,” the local authority stated.
“On a daily basis the officers manage their resources to ensure the brigade is operationally prepared and can deliver cover throughout the city.
There is no concern about the capacity of Cork City Fire Brigade to deliver emergency cover.”
Waterford Fire Service currently has 4 vacancies across its 10 fire stations with recruitment competitions actively underway.
“This is not unusual and is not considered a shortage, nor is it directly impacting on service delivery,” Waterford City and County Council said in a statement.