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Thread: Bray Fire Deaths -Wicklow County Council Official Arrested -Ireland worst in Europe for Fire Deaths

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    Exclamation Bray Fire Deaths -Wicklow County Council Official Arrested -Ireland worst in Europe for Fire Deaths

    Something I was writing about over on Politics.ie before I was so rudely interrupted.

    If anyone was able to find the thread - on Irish Fire Deaths- and link it here, it would be much appreciated.


    A senior Wicklow County Council official was arrested today over a fire which claimed the lives of two firefighters.

    It is understood the man was detained at Bray Garda Station after officers contacted him for questioning over the blaze in a disused building in September 2007.

    He was being quizzed under Section Four of the Criminal Justice Act and can be held for up to 24 hours.

    Part-time firefighters Mark O’Shaughnessy, 26, and Brian Murray, 46, were killed in the blaze when the roof of the abandoned building on Lower Dargle Road in Bray, Co Wicklow, collapsed on them.

    Four people have been questioned over the blaze, including at least one senior fire officer.

    In late February the offices of Wicklow County Council in Wicklow Town were raided by gardaí probing the deaths.

    It is understood a team of officers were attempting to recover files and computer data.

    The families of the two firefighters have been campaigning for reform of the fire services in the county since the men’s deaths.

    They believe there was a delay in responding to the blaze on Lower Dargle Road as it was out of control by the time the two men arrived at the scene.

    Mr Murray, a 10-year veteran of Bray’s retained fire service, had warned superiors just three weeks before his death of dangerous practices in the service.

    He wrote to the county’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Joanne O’Connor, after office workers were asked to check a blaze themselves before firefighters were called out.
    Read more: http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/council-official-held-over-fatal-fire-457220.html#ixzz0ncJ61eK5
    Last edited by C. Flower; 11-05-2010 at 01:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    Quote Originally Posted by C Flower View Post
    If anyone was able to find the thread - on Irish Fire Deaths- and link it here, it would be much appreciated
    This one?

    http://www.politics.ie/health-social...hs-europe.html

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    Thanks very much, Ah Well. This was the OP:


    The very sad case of the 6 year old girl who died in a housefire has been settled.

    RTÉ News: Fatal Sligo house fire case settled

    The fire, in a local authority house, happened after the tenants had reported that water was pouring through the electrics.



    RTÉ.ie Media Player: Fatal Sligo house fire case settled

    Quote:
    Sligo family who lost a six-year-old girl in a house fire ten years ago has settled its High Court action against Sligo Corporation.
    The Jinks have been awarded just over €115,000 after the court was told the action was settled without admission of liability.
    Afterwards, Philomena Jinks said she would never forget her daughter Sarah who died in the fire and she hoped it would not happen to anyone else.
    Advertisement
    The court was told that nine complaints were made about the condition of the house at St Edwards Terrace before the fire broke out.
    The family had claimed the fire was caused by a combination of a faulty electrical system and leaking water.
    Personally, I find the site of one of these houses with its front smoke blackened too frequently appears on the 6 o'clock news.

    I'm not an expert on the fire services, but I thought I would try and find out what the story is, and whether I was imagining that we have far too many fire deaths.

    I went to this fireservices website - the statistics there only give details of the numbers of call outs per station, and not fire deaths.

    Fire Statistics

    The site did link to a report on the Fire Services commissioned by Noel Dempsey in 2002 when he was Minister for the Environment.

    http://www.irishfireservices.ie/down...arksreport.pdf

    Go to page 58 of the FGS report. You'll find that Ireland appears to have had the highest level of fire deaths per capita in Europe, along with Norway and Poland.

    Quote:
    3.12 The foregoing graph indicates that Ireland is at the upper end of the spectrum as regards brigade-reported fire deaths. As reported to us throughout the Review, the majority of fire deaths in Ireland arise in domestic fire situations. It would appear, therefore, that Ireland has a particular problem in relation to the number of fire deaths arising in domestic fire
    situations.
    Farrrell Grant Sparks said that in reality no one in Ireland knew how many fire deaths there are as the Fire Service figures are acknowledged to be incomplete. They recommended that figures should be kept (it appears from Fireservices.ie that this is still not happening).

    Quote:
    3.13 In conducting the Review, we found that there was much more concentration at international level in looking at total fire deaths. It seems to us, from our work in this area, that there is common acceptance of the fact that brigade-reported fire deaths only tell part of the story.
    http://www.independent.ie/multimedia...re_162703t.jpg
    house


    http://www.irishfireservices.ie/down...arksreport.pdf

    Reasons for High Levels of Fire Deaths

    I haven't read the whole of the FGS Report. Some of the reasons for high fire deaths they said is lack of prevention, lack of training and low spending on Fire Services.

    When I came back to Ireland to live I was struck by the Toytown nature of the fire services:

    -Second hand fire trucks with nothing much in the way of extendable ladders
    - Part time staff
    - A charge for use of fire services.
    - The lack of building regulations and inspection of houses for compliance
    - even when houses are built to comply, people put in replacement windows that don't allow escape. Attic bedrooms seem to be another problem.
    - The wrong types of fabric in fixtures and fittings can cause fire deaths.
    - Working smoke alarms appear to help prevent fire-related deaths.

    It appears that poor maintenance of housing stock by local authorities may be an issue.

    This study looks at behavioural causes of fire deaths, including drugs and drink
    ( it confirms that Irish fire deaths are amonst the highest in Europe - only Hungary had a higher rate in 2003).

    http://www.irishfireservices.ie/down...firedeaths.pdf

    The chip pan or cigarette after a night in the pub has been known to cause fires.

    Farrell Grants Sparks recommended a central Fire Authority, taking the service away from the Local authorities. They recommended that proper statistics should be kept and the service brought up to best practice standards.

    In 2007 there was the following exchange in the Dail after a number of fire deaths in Bray

    Soapbox Ireland: October 2007

    Quote:
    The Dáil has rejected a Labour Party motion calling for a full-time fire service for Bray and other large centres of population.

    The motion follows the death of two part-time firefighters in Bray, Co Wicklow, last month.

    Labour TD Kathleen Lynch said a fire service is as essential as health and education.

    However Minister of State Batt O'Keeffe said the provision of a fire service was a matter for the local authority and not the Government.

    Yesterday, the families of deceased firefighters Mark O'Shaughnessy and Brian Murray called on the people of Bray to join them in a march to be held in the town next Saturday morning.

    The march is to demand that Wicklow County Council implement a full-time fire service for Bray.
    It seems that nothing much has come of Noel Dempsey's report and Government shrugs off responsibility.

    I know that some new fire stations have been built in the last few years, but it seems to me that fire stations don't stop fires. I may be only getting part of the picture, and I would welcome anyone with knowledge of this area filling in more information of correcting anything I have misunderstood.

    Some tips on fire safety in the home:

    Louth Local Authorities - Fire Service

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    Part of the problem is that there is no public strategy for fire services so you get parochialism raising its head eg Donegal County Council want to close two fire stations in Bundoran and Ballyshannon and build a new one between the two towns.
    It is being resisted fiercely in both towns.
    Cross-party meeting in Leinster House over proposed fire station | Ocean FM
    while the County Council has made no effort to win over public opinion.
    Result: impasse.

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    From: MurphyforBray

    The most serious flaw is putting the responsibility on each local authority to assess fire cover and to provide the level of cover as assessed. A national fire Authority as proposed by the FGS report is essential. The irony is that it was Dick Roche who finally shelved this section of the report citing "another quango" as his reason. He missed the point. The point is there is no need for 30+ Chief fire officers in a country the size of Ireland. In fact we can't afford it. Dicks decision had implications for Brian Murray and Mark o'Shaughnessy who gave their lives due to being under-resourced in fulfilling their duty of fighting fires. Dick Roche cried his crocodile tears along with Joe Behan, both of whom mislead their electorate by campaigning for a full time service for Bray but voting against it when given the opportunity in the Dail. The Dail record doesn't lie(13-october 2007). Joe Behan was subsequently forced to publicly state his regret at this decision by pressure from the families of these two men when he mentioned in his resignation letter to the Taoiseach that this was against his better judgement. However he is working hard to get back into FF and has been canvassing hard for Pat Vance and Damien Meaney in Bray and Jane Dignam in Wicklow. As far as I can tell he has not expressed his independence since leaving F.F. The families of these two Men have vowed to remind the people of Bray of the betrayal of the Town by Dick and Joe.

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    cactusflower:

    Thanks for your post. Maybe a regional system for fire services might work best. There is so much wrong it is hard to know where to start.
    Respect to the firemen and the people in Bray who've campaigned.

    So many fires seem to take place in the same design local authority house that I can't help wondering if there are design and construction reasons, but maybe it is just the factors like bad wiring, smoking, and replacement windows that are causing the deaths.

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    MurphyforBray again -

    Oldcourt Estate in Bray is one of the worst examples of bad design and bad maintenance standards. There have been many needless deaths in this estate(200 meters from Bray Fire Station). These houses were originally build as a stopgap in the 1970s to ease a housing crisis. In the 1980s a refurbishment scheme began. The houses were timberframed with bitumen felt and aluminium outer. They had a Bitumen felt flat roof. When the refurbishment started the aluminium was removed(presumably for scrap value) and a block wall was built maintaining a cavity front and back and a pitched roof was put on top. The main problems in doing this are 1. Bitumen felt hanging in the wall cavities. 2. Bitumen felt on the attic floor.(some have converted to bedrooms and have just covered the felt with flooring. 3. In many cases the roof wasn't fully cut back to allow the walls to be built and the bitumen felt runs between houses. 4. The dividing walls were not completed in the attic space and in all cases light can be seen through from next door and in a lot of cases a person could climb from one attic space to another. Ther was a case of one house undergoing refurbishment following a fire when two plumbers were second fixing the house and one started a fire downstairs without realising it. The fire travelled through the cavity into the attic almost overcoming the second plumber in the attic while his mate was totally unaware. Firefighters regularly complained that when they were attending fires in this estate they would have smoke billowing from vents several houses away.

    All of these problems and more are on the public record since late 2007 when a report was published. In Feb 2006 the chief fire officer when summoned before Bray Town Council anwered a direct question about fire safety in oldcourt. He said " These houses are at least as safe as other houses in the town". This is also a matter of public record.(council meeting minutes). This highlights to me the dangers of the same body(local authority) being responsible for housing and fire-fighting. The minister for the environment (or lightbulbs) confirmed to Me in writing that it is not the role of DOE to police or regulate Local Authorities in fulfilling their obligations under the Fire Services Act 1981. The minister has confirmed that they are unregulated. The CFO's word is law. CFO's get bonuses on an annual basis for perfomance. This is assessed according to a number of criteria one of which is fiscal prudence. As this is the same person responsible for assessing fire cover needs surely this is a conflict of interest.

    Does it seem odd that a housing estate that has had a high number of fires of varying severity and cause that the chief was able to make the statement as quoted above, given the faults subsequently exposed by the 2007 report. I have no desire to draw anyone into discussions regarding unverifiable information. If anyone wants to see documents establishing anything I have said above please ask. I can arrange to send them privately as it's not appropriate to show here.

    Has anyone any opinion on why the DOE have requested stats to be calculated as follows

    Response times to be cal;culated as follows:

    Full time service Response time is from time of call being received from the public to first tender arriving at scene

    Retained response time is from activation of alerters to first tender arriving at scene

    Again document available

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    six said -

    Well, despite lots of talk, we have some of the most lax wiring / electrical safety regulations in Europe.

    While most of our installations are good, and the wiring rules are good, there's still a situation where any idiot is allowed to wire a house.

    There are no regular electrical inspections, these are required elsewhere, at the very least each time the house is sold, let or re-let.

    Then we're surprised when houses burn down due to electrical faults !

    It's all light-touch, self-regulation and the usual stupid approach.

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    The description of Oldcourt is shocking beyond belief. Are people still living in these houses or has remedial work been done?

    I came across a young blind woman living in a local authority house on her own only a few years ago and the only heating was an open fire with a back boiler. The fireplace was scorched and the wall above was stained with smoke.

    In DLR too there is an estate where I've seen wiring hanging out of walls and streaming damp.

    When it comes to the wiring, who would inspect and train. The Local Authority and FáS ?

    Who investigates fire deaths ? Is it the Fire Service or the Gardai ?

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    murphyforbray said

    The Gardai are involved in investigations but the "expertise" comes from the fire service.The Gardai will investigate further if questions are raised by the fire service. In oldcourt the slow response time has been responsible for numerous deaths but during investigations this is never questioned. You won't get an answer to a question you don't ask. WCC have a fire investigator who seems to have overlooked the problems in oldcourt. Is this negligence or just incompetence I'm not sure. They always use the same investigator even for the fire that killed Mark o'Shaughnessy and Brian Murray. Again I have seen the terms of reference for this investigation and it is restricted to the cause and spread of the fire. There is no mention of the effectiveness of the Brigade. In short they investigate themselves.

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    This isn't good. The situation with traffic accident reports was talked about on Liveline this week. Apparently it has improved. The Gards have a forensic investigation team/s they said. There are still issues about access to the reports and relatives of deceased persons have to pay for access to incomplete information. If someone pleads guilty there is no trial and very little information released.

    Are the Fire Reports available? Is there anything on the internet?
    Is there any particular reason why people are unable to get out in these fires?
    Does the Council have them fitted with smoke alarms? Have a lot of people bought the houses from the Council?

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    notasellout said

    the question i have purely based on what i know from media reports, how has the chief fire officer been allowed to continue in his poisition while he and the fire service are under investigation. whats been going on in our town with the fire brigade is disgracefull, ie oldcourt dead firefighters. its shocking. im a disabled man and if my house went on fire id be in trouble, and with all due respect to the firefighters there hands are tied due to lack of funding.
    also looking back over the internet i heard alligations of call vetting, can anyone explain this fully to me because what i understand it to be, it couldnt be true.

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    murphyforbray said

    Everyone is entitled to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, however it does seem that a person with authority over key witnesses should be suspended on full pay with an assumption of innocence pending the outcome of investigations.

    Call-vetting is when the fireservice decides not to respond to a call immediately or at all. In Dublin Fire Brigade they have a policy of "it's better to respond and not be needed than to not respond and be needed". In wicklow the allegation is that the opposite is the case. There are a number of key personnel from Bray Fire Station who are on the record as having said there is and was an obsession in Bray/Wicklow with not responding to calls. The debate around full time against part time fire services is always based on misinformation. It is a fact that when Bray Fire station switched from answering its own calls to a central call centre in Dublin that calls more than doubled. Number of calls would be a key criteria for deciding to go full time.

    As I said in a previous post the figures collected for statistical purposes are skewed by the manner in which they are collected. A full time service counts its response time as time from call being received from the public to first arrival at scene. Retained counts its response time from the activation of the firefighters alerters to first arrival on scene. This is the measure as requested by the Dept. of Envir. (Circular LG26/07 as sent to local authorities dated 20/12/07.) There can be only one reason to calculate the figures diffrentely and I will leave you to work that out for yourself

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    notasellout said

    i agree, but hopefully something will come out of what happened in bray, i know most politicians wont talk about it and just want it to go away, but i believe the familys affected have come together and put someone forward in local elections,to make sure somethings done. i know the party i represent and support just wanted it to go away after a while because they had councillers sitting in wicklow when it happened and MAYBE felt guilty

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    Default Re: Bray Fire Deaths - Senior Wicklow County Council Official Arrested

    As I said in a previous post the figures collected for statistical purposes are skewed by the manner in which they are collected. A full time service counts its response time as time from call being received from the public to first arrival at scene. Retained counts its response time from the activation of the firefighters alerters to first arrival on scene. This is the measure as requested by the Dept. of Envir. (Circular LG26/07 as sent to local authorities dated 20/12/07.) There can be only one reason to calculate the figures diffrentely and I will leave you to work that out for yourself I'm a bit slow about this. Are there criteria for meeting calls within a certain time that would have cost implications ?
    I'm shocked that differerent stats are kept by full time and "retained". I'm not sure that I understand the difference between the way they operate. Are some services run by 100% part time staff on call?

    I'm also shocked beyond belief about the idea of "call vetting".

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