Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Ceisteanna (676)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

676. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason Castlerea fire station, County Roscommon remains closed for almost three years; if his attention has been drawn to the concerns from an association (details supplied) for the safety of staff at Castlerea Prison as a result of the absence of such a fire service in the town and the refusal of a person to meet with representatives from the association in order to listen to its concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47748/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The provision of a fire service in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of fire station premises, is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under the Fire Service Acts, 1981 and 2003. My Department supports fire authorities through general policy setting and preparing legislation, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding for priority infrastructural projects.

Roscommon County Council provides a fire service based out of fire stations at Roscommon town, Elphin, Boyle, Ballaghdereen and Strokestown. Significant areas of the county are also served from fire stations located in adjacent counties including Athlone, Ballinasloe, Ballyhaunis, Carrick-on-Shannon and Lanesboro.

My Department was informed by Roscommon County Council in February 2017 that due to a particular local circumstance, Castlerea Fire Station was stood down. Since then fire cover has been provided from the adjacent fire stations. My Department is assured that fire cover in the area has been delivered in an efficient and safe manner by adjacent brigades.

While Castlerea fire station is currently stood down, Roscommon Fire Service is in regular contact with the Castlerea Prison authorities and is assisting them with their Fire Safety Management responsibilities for the facility. For example, a comprehensive bespoke exercise was carried out in 2018, in the Prison, which covered:

- Testing and checking Fire Appliance access through front & internal gates,

- Location and water flow of firefighting hydrants,

- Familiarisation with areas of potential risk and

- Use of breathing apparatus for firefighting and the rescue of casualties from cells.

At the exercise, numerous Fire Appliances were brought into the prison along with Fire Service personnel from nearby Fire Brigades in Roscommon Town, Ballaghaderreen, Boyle, Elphin, Strokestown, and Ballyhaunis.

Roscommon Fire Service also carried out a Site Familiarisation Visit of the Prison this month during which they met with the facility's Assistant Governor. Further to this site visit Fire and Prison Service Officers agreed that another joint exercise would take place in early 2020. Roscommon Fire Service liaises on an ongoing basis with the Prison Authorities with regard to fire safety matters in regard to the recent and ongoing construction works in the prison.