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Concerns raised about public fire safety

THE FIRE SERVICE must reveal how much savings it will make by reducing the number of full-time fire fighters in Fermanagh, so the people of the area “know the price of our safety.”
The call was made as it was revealed the Fire Service may be using the area as a test case to see how the cuts will be managed.
Michael Graham, chief fire and rescue officer, has written to the Council in response to its concerns over proposed cuts to the local service.
The changes, which came into effect in August and which the Fire Service state are temporary, will see the number of full-time firefighters at Enniskillen station reduced from five to three, supported by ‘on-call’, or part time, firefighters.
This has raised fears of a possibly life-threatening reduction in response times. Officer Graham said that the service’s first priority was public and firefighter safety.
“The stations affected will continue to have the same operational cover they currently provide at evenings and weekends,” he said.
In a statement that caused some concern, however, Officer Graham added: “The introduction of these interim measure will not only help us manage our budget in the short-term but they will help us assess any impact and inform any longer-term change.”
As for how long ‘on-call’ firefighters take to respond to a call, Officer Graham said it was an average of six minutes and 53 seconds.
Cllr Howard Thornton said they Fire Service talked “as if the risk assessment is complete” when instead it appeared the cuts to the Omagh and Enniskillen stations were appeared to be the risk assessment.
“I would not like to think we are being used as guinea pigs in the western area,” he said, calling for clarification on Officer Graham’s statement on on-call response times.
Cllr Adam Gannon asked how the reduction in the service could be justified “if one person was to die as a result of that extra five minutes” and asked what savings the Fire Service would be making by the cuts.
“Everyone in Fermanagh and Omagh should know the price of our safety,” he said.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA