Carrick-on-Suir’s county councillors have called for fire hydrants in their town to be checked and maintained after fire fighters experienced poor water pressure while battling a recent house fire where a man was injured.
In the wake of the fire at Ard Mhuire, Carrick-on-Suir, Cllrs Kieran Bourke and David Dunne tabled a motion at Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District’s monthly meeting last Thursday urging Tipperary County Council to contact the authority responsible for the upkeep of Carrick’s fire hydrants.
The councillors’ motion stated they believe these hydrants should be checked and maintained annually in the interest of health and safety.
In a written response, Tipperary County Council said Irish Water was responsible for the upkeep of fire hydrants and provision of adequate water pressure to them.
And Tipperary Fire Service’s Chief Fire Officer Dave Carroll, in a separate response, stressed that while there appeared to be reduced pressure in a number of hydrants within 250m of the fire, this had “no material impact” in relation to dealing with the incident.
He insisted there was adequate water at all times and the incident commander didn’t seek to augment water supplies with the deployment of a tanker from Cahir or Clonmel. Two fire appliances from Carrick and Clonmel attended the fire and they each had an internal tank of 1,800 litres of water, he explained.
Cllrs Bourke and Dunne told council officials they were contacted after the fire by a number of Ard Mhuire residents concerned about the lack of water pressure in fire hydrants in their area.
Cllr Bourke outlined that the house fire in this residential estate on Saturday, October 16 resulted in a man being hospitalised with bad burns and the family were now homeless.
He expressed concern that but for another fire brigade unit from Clonmel attending at the fire they could have had a major tragedy on their hands.
The Fianna Fáil councillor said he believed the maintenance of fire hydrants was a task that was forgotten or overlooked in the transfer of water services from the county councils to Irish Water. He remembered council workers checking fire hydrants in the town monthly.
The councillor said he was disappointed with the reply from the council to the motion and called for the issue to be discussed with water and fire service officials at the next Municipal District meeting.
Cllr Dunne echoed this call and stressed this was a very serious issue. He said they spoke to people in the Fire Service after this fire and there were three to four areas where the water pressure was low.
He appealed to council officials not to just “pass the buck” between the local authority and Irish Water on this issue as someone could have been killed. He pointed out that health and safety was a major priority in any industry but he felt it wasn’t being dealt with here.
Referring to the chief fire officer’s report on the fire, Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District’s Director of Services Brian Beck reminded councillors Bourke and Dunne that the reduced water pressure had no material impact on the blaze or fire fighters’ ability to tackle the fire. The fire didn’t develop in a different way because of the low water pressure. Cllr Bourke responded that he accepted in this particular incident the water pressure had no bearing on the outcome of the fire but he was concerned about the future. The fire hydrants needed to be looked at annually and not just in relation to water pressure.
He argued the Fire Service has a responsibility in this area as well as Irish Water because it dealt with the fires and the equipment used to tackle them.
But Mr Beck insisted the Fire Service didn’t have a responsibility over the upkeep of fire hydrants as the water services infrastructure was in the ownership of Irish Water. Carrick-on-Suir MD Chairman Cllr Mark Fitzgerald proposed that in response to the the Carrick councillors’ motion, the council write to Irish Water and request that all the fire hydrants be checked.
Cllr Bourke suggested that the council also request Irish Water to supply an annual report to the local authority detailing the checks carried out on fire hydrants. “That is not being unreasonable. It’s a serious issue,” he added.
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