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Review of firefighters’ pay is called for in aftermath of 71 gorse fires in West Cork

March 16th, 2023 2:25 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Review of firefighters’ pay is called for in aftermath of 71 gorse fires in West Cork Image
(Photo: Miki Barlok)

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FIREFIGHTERS in West Cork need a salary bump commensurate with the clear and present danger of their jobs, according to Cllr Caroline Cronin.

The FG councillor said it was a minor miracle that no one was injured as a result of the wholesale burning of gorse before the March 1st ban came into effect.

Never before, she said, have people seen so many fires burning throughout West Cork and she warned that considerable damage could have been caused to the aviation towers on Mount Gabriel.

Huge credit must go to Cork County Council’s fire-fighting crews who responded to 71 fires, primarily in Bantry and on the Mizen, Sheep’s Head and Beara peninsulas, she said. West Cork’s six fire brigades, as well as crews from Kerry and Carrigaline, were pressed into an almost 24-hour cycle of service from Friday February 24th to Wednesday March 1st. 

‘It was their dedication’ said Cllr Cronin, ‘that prevented the situation from getting completely out of control and endangering human life and people’s property.’

She pointed out that there are just two fire engines based in Schull and that the reduced crew of seven have to cover a huge geographical area on the Mizen peninsula. Resignations and retirements have had an impact on reducing the number of people employed in the fire service, she added, and it is proving very difficult to attract new crews because the rate of pay is unattractive to new entrants.

‘Central government must put reasonable budgets in place to provide adequate cover and compensation for this vital emergency service,’ she stated at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District.

Cllr Cronin called on both Cork County Council and the Department of Local Government to review the pay of firefighters. 

‘The recent gorse fires have highlighted the fact that there is a shortage of part-time Cork County Council fire crews in certain stations. These dangerous fires also highlighted the extreme conditions that these crews are forced to work under.’

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