12/06/2008

Gorse Fires And Attacks On Firefighters Slammed

After many hundreds of malicious fires in gorge areas over the last weeks of warm weather, the NI Public Safety Minister, Michael McGimpsey has called on members of the public to do their bit in reducing both attacks on firefighters and the lighting of malicious fires.

Noting that firefighters have already attended 1,841 wildland or gorse fires right across Northern Ireland in the eight weeks to 1st June 2008, he also related that while reported attacks on firefighters in the Londonderry District have reduced - from 19 in the first six months - there have still be a dozen such attacks.

Speaking at the hand-over of two new fire appliances to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) in the North West, he said: "I would ask everyone to stop and think: Could my children or somebody I know have started the gorse fire? Could my children or somebody I know have been involved in an attack on fire fighters?

"We must all face reality and take collective responsibility for safety in our community. If these mindless attacks and fire settings continue, sooner or later we will pay a price. That price may be the life of someone you love or care about.

"That life may just be yours!" he said, dramatically, noting that everyone in the community should take action to report the perpetrators and parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children behave.

Speaking on his visit to Northland Fire Station in Londonderry, where the new vehicles will be based, the Minister said: "This demonstrates the sort of capital investment needed to ensure our firefighters can deliver a first class service.

"As part of the final Executive budget announced earlier this year, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service will benefit from a significant £46 million investment in fire appliances, rapid response vehicles, fire stations and up-to-date IT systems.

"Delivering new fire appliances, similar to those we see here today, will be just one of the many ways this new funding will assist in supporting this essential infrastructure development programme.

"The firefighters who serve Londonderry and the surrounding areas do a tremendous job in responding to a wide range of emergency incidents from fires, road traffic collisions and other specialist rescue calls. They are a vital part of the community.

"We hope that these new appliances will rarely be needed, but it is reassuring that this equipment, and the trained firefighters to use it, are here, ready, willing and able to use it at any time, day or night."

The specialist aerial (high rise) appliance and pumping appliance represent an investment of over half a million pounds.

(BMcC)

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