THERE have been fresh warnings that cuts to weekend cover within the Fire Service could be putting lives at risk.
A well-placed source has provided information to the Tyrone Herald suggesting that just two crew members were on duty in Omagh town at 12.30pm on Saturday, September 23.
The data revealed that Enniskillen town faced the same scenario shortly after noon on the same date.
It follows fears expressed last Christmas over plans to remove full-time weekend cover in Omagh in January of this year.
The cut resulted in full time crews being pulled from covering daytime shifts on Saturdays and Sundays, replacing them with part-time fire-fighters.
One “very worried” source within the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) contacted this paper anonymously last week, claiming that local firestations are now “under staffed” since the changes were implemented.
“Fermanagh and Omagh are not getting the proper resources for the weekend cover,” they said, adding, “NIFRS are doing nothing to change this, someone will die.”
However another fire-fighter somewhat played down the concerns.
He said that in scenarios where cover is stretched, crews could be brought in from another station or an appliance could be mobilised from a nearby town.
He said it was part of the Fire Service’s ‘Retained Duty System’.
“I’ve never known us not to get an appliance out of Omagh,” he said.
In a statement to the Tyrone Herald, the Fire Service said that cover in both Omagh and Enniskillen was not compromised on the dates in question.
“Where NIFRS identify shortfalls in required levels of crewing, our Regional Control Centre staff implement pre-defined business continuity measures to ensure emergency response cover is not compromised.
“Business continuity measures involve a number of options, including forward deployment of personnel from other stations to the affected station and also the immediate mobilisation of neighbouring stations where potential shortfalls are identified.
“On the date in question, fire cover in these locations was not compromised due to the implementation of these procedures.”