Thank you for allowing me to raise this important matter on the Adjournment. I thank the Minister also for being present.
I last raised this issue on the Adjournment on 9 March 1994 in the context of seeking approval for the provision of a new fire station at Enniscrone. Approval was subsequently granted by the former Minister for the Environment, Deputy Michael Smith, and I quote from a letter received from him dated 8 June 1994:
You will be pleased to learn that I will be approving in principle proposals from Sligo County Council to invite tenders for the construction of a new fire station at Enniscrone shortly. I trust that this information will be of interest to you.
Following this, tenders were received by Sligo County Council, the lowest of which was from Kilcawleys, contractors. This tender was recommended to the Minister by Sligo County Council on 12 December 1994. The Department requested further information from Sligo County Council which was promptly supplied. However, to date the necessary funding has not been provided by the Department of the Environment to enable Sligo County Council to formally accept this tender.
The thriving developing seaside resort of Enniscrone is in urgent need of a new, modern, state of the art fire fighting facility. The population of Enniscrone quadruples during the summer months. This fire station serves not only Enniscrone but also a large catchment area of approximately 18 miles long and 15 miles wide. It covers the townlands of Skreen, Templeboy, Dromore West, Culleens, Rathlee, the town and seaside resort of Easkey and the densely populated area along the coast.
Enniscrone now has a modern fire fighting engine which, when being reversed into the station, must first have all of its 35 foot extension ladder removed and dismantled to fit into the building. When this manoeuvre has been successfully completed there is only a four inch clearance at the front of the vehicle when the doors are closed. There are no facilities for fire fighters to carry out necessary work such as cleaning hoses, ladders and essential equipment such as a breathing apparatus, etc. All maintenance work on the vehicle, the ladders and the hoses must be done outside.
There are no facilities for fire fighters to carry out regular fire drills and the nearest station in which this could be done is in Sligo, 35 miles away. There are no facilities to attend lectures or watch videos on up-to-date fire fighting practices or pollution which, in a seaside resort like Enniscrone, is more of a threat to our beaches now than ever before. If there was a major oil spill off the north west coast the fire brigade, with Civil Defence personnel, would be the first on the scene.
Because of the location of the existing building there is a great difficulty in entering and exiting from it. We must not forget that every exit from a fire station is an emergency. The provision of a new modern fire station in Enniscrone fully equipped with the latest fire fighting apparatus, particularly a 64 foot ladder, is essential. I want to pay tribute to the nine fire fighting personnel for the wonderful work they are doing in coping with such facilities.
I thank the Minister for coming to the House and I urge him to make the necessary funding available to Sligo County Council having regard to the number of people who will visit Enniscrone during the summer months.