27 Sept 2022

Laois fire fighters unable to follow Covid-19 rules due to lack of facilities claim councillors

Laois fire fighters unable to follow Covid-19 rules due to lack of facilities claim councillors

Two Laois fire stations are so lacking in basic facilities that crews are unable to follow strict Covid-19 guidelines.

Both Stradbally and Rathdowney fire stations are waiting on Government funding to upgrade their buildings, with Laois County Council having applied to the Department of the Environment for funding but with no success yet.

In the meantime, fire crews that include male and female employees have no shower facilities.

Cllr Paschal McEvoy said this week that the Stradbally firecrews are not able to follow Covid-19 rules.

"They don't even have showers for firemen coming in after doing their work, it is one of the top stations. This needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.

"Under Covid they are supposed to shower before they go back to their families, but that doesn't happen in Stradbally," he said.

Cllr John King is himself a retired fireman in Rathdowney and he outlined the difficulties there faced by female fire fighters.

"There are two ladies in Rathdowney fire station and they have to go home to have their showers," he said.

Director of Services Simon Walton said that the two stations are their top priorities, starting with Stradbally.

The council is preparing a Part 8 planning proposal to have Stradbally "shovel ready" whenever funding is granted.  

"We are seeking to address in the short terms any welfare issues for staff. If we got the funding it would still be a few years away," he said.

In the meantime, the shortage of retained fire fighters in Laois has been highlighted, with 13 vacancies across a number of Laois fire stations, and signs outside them inviting applications.

Cllr Willie Aird has suggested a publicity campaign involving visits to schools to attract new firefighters. 

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