In the heat of battle

WITH the lead up to Halloween being the busiest time of year for Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) and resources stretched to the limit, The Echo News Editor William O’Connor went on a 17 hour shift with firefighters and officers of DFB to really understand the work they do while we sleep safely in our beds at night.

Last Saturday William spent the night with ‘D’ watch from Dolphin’s Barn and Tallaght to see how Dublin Fire Brigade deal with emergency situations – and it was certainly “a real eye opener”.

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DFB at the scene of two buses on fire at Knockmitten Lane 

“The Bravo District which I was travelling with, covers an area of 226 Km2 comprising of Dolphin’s Barn and Tallaght Fire Stations.” said William.

The area has a resident population of around 400,000 people and contains some of the busiest and largest road networks (N7, N4, M50), light and heavy rail (LUAS and Heuston) and water courses (Liffey, Dodder and Grand canal) in the county.

The district also contains two airports (Baldonnell and Weston). The District has four front line fire appliances, two ambulances, a heavy rescue emergency tender and a District Officers command vehicle. A total of 28 firefighters and officers crew these appliances on any given night.

The district is recorded statistically as the busiest in Europe dealing with multiples of the types of incidents DFB encounter in its very varied catchment area as described above.

Right from the start, ‘D’ watch, who were starting a 17-hour shift, were called into action as they dealt with two-coaches on fire in Knockmitten Lane.

During the course of the shift, the Fire Brigade dealt with Road Traffic Accidents (RTA), drug over dose situations, an office block fire, a person attempting to jump off the roof of a house, five house fires, fireworks put through letter boxes and a person falling down a flight of stairs in a theatre.

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A firework was thrown through a letterbox

Alongside dealing with the incidents, professional members of DFB were also dealing with the public in sometimes hostile situations.

William explained that, “During the early hours of Sunday morning, we had to deal with two RTA’s along the M50 and when this was finished we had to call to a house where a 93-year-old fell in her bedroom and could not get out as the person was leaning against the door.”

 DFB dealt with 171 calls over the course of the shift in what was an extremely busy night in the run up to Halloween and during International Control Room Week which runs from October 22 to 28.

During the course of Monday night, the DFB control room processed 113 emergency fire calls in the Dublin area, 75 of these phone calls were related to 62 separate incidents of bonfires/bins/skips/rubbish set alight.

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Tara Street call centre 

Not many people know but the DFB ambulance is one of the busiest in the country and up to last Sunday had dealt with over 120,000 calls already this year.

The ambulance service was also on the go all night dealing with life threatening situations, and with all members of the Dublin Fire Brigade being trained parametics, they too get called to all types of incidents, not only fires.

If you call an ambulance and see a fire truck turning up outside your house, remember all DFB staff are trained parametics and you are in very safe hands.

William said that members of the Fire Brigade put their own lives on the line as they dealt with serious real life situations throughout the course of their shift.

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DFB dealing with a three-car collision

He added, “I saw a member of the Fire Brigade rescue a member of the public from jumping off the roof of a house, I also saw a person who took cocaine in a homeless shelter revived by DFB and them dealing with a office block fire where they had to walk up to the fifth floor and put a drive shaft out on a lift.”

Fire and rescue incidents include response to; Domestic, Institutional, Commercial, Hi-Rise and Industrial premises fires; Water rescues of which there are approximately 100 per year from canals, rivers, lakes and flooding incidents; Hi-Line rescues from heights, cliffs and cranes; Road Traffic incidents and heavy rescue including multiple vehicle and multiple casualty events and Chemical and Hazardous Materials incidents.

DFB are also a Marine Emergency Response and are the declared asset of the Irish Coast Guard.

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William O'Connor, Echo News Editor, with Daithi O'Reilly , Dolphin's Barn

This effectively means that any fire on a vessel in Irish Waters (and some UK waters) will be responded to by DFB personnel transported on Coast Guard or Military helicopters out to sea to tackle the fire and (water related) Animal rescues such as horses in the canal locks etc.

Also this year because of the exceptionally good weather during the summer DFB had to deal with some very difficult and prolonged incidents involving forestry, gorse and grass lands fires.

“During the course of the shift, I travelled nearly 200 km all across the county. While it was a fantatsic experience, the staff at Dublin Fire Brigade must be acknoweldged for the brilliant service they provide to residents in the area, dealing with all types of situations,” concluded William. 

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