Thursday, 13 June 2019

Questions (226)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

226. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will consider exploring the possibility that the Irish Coast Guard air sea rescue could assist the Air Corps in dealing with wildfire control in times of absolute emergency; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that such arrangements exist in other countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24363/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The provision of a fire service in its functional area and the assessment of fire cover needs having regard to the nature of the fire hazards and the probable incidence and extent of fires in its area is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under Section 10 of the Fire Services Act 1981.

The priority of fire services in responding to incidents of wildland fires is the protection of life in local communities and among emergency responders. An important secondary objective is working with local communities to try to protect infrastructure, houses and other property, as well as conservation areas, where it is safe to do so.  

The response to such wildfires is supported by well established arrangements where local authority fire services may, through the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) in my Department, request the assistance of the Defence Forces. The kind of support provided to local authority fire services by the Defence Forces in wildland fire-fighting has been effective and is greatly appreciated.

Irish Coast Guard helicopters provide a vital search and rescue service, both marine and inland. In the latter context they may be called to assist in rescuing persons who are cut-off or endangered by wildland fires.