Talks on Dublin Fire Brigade dispute break down

Fire brigade management say Dublin City Council has failed to resource four additional ambulances needed to service the capital

Union representatives have expressed their disappointment after talks aimed at ending a row at Dublin Fire Brigade ended without agreement.

The talks between SIPTU representatives and Dublin City Council were aimed at resolving a dispute over the resourcing of the fire brigade ambulance service in the capital.

Dublin Fire Brigade management has advised the council that it is prepared to put four additional ambulances into service in order to meet Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) targets.

However, management said the council has failed to make the resources available to introduce the new services.

Industrial action

SIPTU members of the city’s fire brigade are currently balloting for industrial action over the dispute.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien said member’s primary concern in the dispute is the well-being of "those they are called to assist in emergency situations.”

“There is growing concern that the management of Dublin City Council is increasingly only concerned with divesting itself of responsibility for providing ambulance provision within the city by running down the Dublin Fire Brigade service,” he said.

“This is something which our members, the public and city councillors have indicated they are completely opposed to.”

Earlier council officials withdrew from a special forum on ambulance provision in the city after it heard a warning against merging call centres for the HSE ambulance service with Dublin Fire Brigade.

An independent expert group told the forum a merger could potentially affect patient safety.

The council is reportedly considering the findings of a separate technical report regarding the computer systems.

Available for talks

The ballot for industrial action is set to be complete within the coming days.

“This ballot results from a refusal by senior management in Dublin City Council to adequately resource the work of the Dublin Fire Brigade Emergency Medical Service so that it can provide the necessary emergency cover for the residents of Dublin,” said Mr O’Brien.

“It is also threatening to commence the dismantling of the service by outsourcing its ambulance call and dispatch function.”

He said union representatives remain available for talks, “if and when, senior management in Dublin City Council indicate it is willing to have meaningful engagement.”