The Irish Chief Fire Officers Association has described the outbreak of gorse, bog and forest fires throughout the country as ‘unprecedented’.
Over the weekend hundreds of Fire Service personnel attended to scores of fires in counties Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo, Longford, Cavan, Roscommon, Offaly, Louth, Westmeath, Clare, Galway and Mayo.
Attempts are continuing to control and contain fires in several counties.
Speaking ahead of the CFOA Annual Conference and Technology Exhibition in County Limerick tomorrow, Chief Fire Officer (Clare) and CFOA Vice Chairman Adrian Kelly said: “The last few days have been one of the busiest periods for the Fire service nationwide in recent years. Indeed, the geographical spread of separate incidents across the country is unprecedented. This has placed a huge strain on Fire Services in the affected counties.”
He added: “Many of the fires that broke out over the weekend have been controlled at this stage but efforts are continuing to contain other fires. A combination of strong winds and the continuing dry conditions exacerbated the situation by causing fires to spread, particularly across Donegal.
The arrival of rain in affected areas over the next 48 hours will provide a significant boost to emergency services in tackling the continuing threat of fires.”
Mr. Kelly said the CFOA “condemns” individuals who had started fires deliberately. “Such reckless actions have placed the lives of both members of the local community and also Firefighters at risk. These fires have also destroyed hundreds of acres of gorse land, forestry and bogs, with negative consequences for property, tourism and wildlife.”
“The CFOA would like to compliment Fire Service personnel who, along with members of local communities in the affected areas, have worked tirelessly to ensure that the risk posed by fire to life and property has been minimised. The Interagency approach to tackling these incidents, comprising Fire Service, the Defence Forces, Coillte and other forestry services, Civil Defence, and members of the public, has highlighted the benefits of dealing with major incidents in a collaborative manner.
“The CFOA appeals to members of the public, and particularly landowners, to familiarise themselves with the latest Department of Agriculture advice relating to forest, gorse and bog fires. Members of the public are advised to check detailed information regarding the controlled burning of lands on the Department of Agriculture website, www.agriculture.gov.ie”, Mr Kelly commented.
He said that the events of recent days underlined the critical need to maintain investment in the Fire Service.
He explained: “The dedication, competence and bravery of our retained Firefighters and full-time staff has been repeatedly highlighted in recent days. Continued Government investment is required to ensure the delivery of efficient frontline services.”