McNarry and Jordan say there is a serious and immediate fire cover risk
David McNarry MLA, UKIP Leader in Northern Ireland, and Noel Jordan, UKIP Councillor in Mid and East Antrim and UKIP Assembly candidate for East Antrim in the forthcoming Assembly election, having spoken recently to senior firefighters to discuss fire service cover across Northern Ireland are today calling on the Health Minister and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service to address serious public concerns over levels of fire safety cover.
Councillor Jordan, who was a retained fire fighter, advised his party leader that, recently over the Christmas period in Carrickfergus, ‘the town was left without sufficient local firefighter cover because of understaffing.’ * Our understanding was that there were several towns in a similar situation.
David McNarry said:
“The Carrickfergus situation is alarming because it illustrates a worrying knock-on ‘domino’ effect likely to end in total chaos across the country, should there be more than two serious incidents to cover. In effect, irrespective of cut backs, the public are being left vulnerable to the extent that property and lives are at risk.
“It is a stupid notional policy to allow a town or area to lose its fire and accident cover because local firefighting crews in one place have been moved to another. Such bureaucratic cuts-mentality short-sightedness which puts people and property at risk has to be reversed.”
Mr. McNarry and Cllr Jordan added:
“What is needed is an urgent and convincing statement from the Minister assuring the public that he is guaranteeing local cover at all times in all areas unless there was a major serious incident. Bringing crews from Belfast to assist while Carrickfergus crews were elsewhere is a nonsensical policy and one which puts people at unnecessary risk.”
The measures David McNarry and Noel Jordan are calling for need to be implemented ahead of the reshuffle of departmental responsibilities following the May election. The public and the Fire and Rescue Service need clear direction as to where its priorities lie within the Executive. Obviously health issues will always be the major recipient of funding in the Health Department so the question has to be asked – is the Health Department the right home for the fire and rescue service? Does it need a ministerial home which puts its life and death priorities right at the top of the funding list?