NIFRS issues countryside fire prevention advice and recruits on-call firefighters

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NIFRS advises public on preventing countryside fires

As reported by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), with dryer weather anticipated, the NIFRS is urging the public to help protect the countryside from wildfires.

These fires are often caused by human behaviour and can be prevented.

Last year, NIFRS dealt with numerous fires in the countryside, including a major wildfire incident in Glenarrif that lasted three days.

NIFRS Group Commander Paul Morrow stated: “Every year our Fire & Rescue Service is faced with fires in the countryside that have been devastating to our environment and wildlife, and they ultimately put people’s lives at risk.

The severity of the incidents, like the major gorse fire incident in Co. Antrim last June, take a massive toll on our resources.”

Commander Morrow highlighted the physical and resource strain caused by these incidents: “This puts an added pressure on our Service and our partner agencies who are frequently required to respond alongside us.

It is physically exhausting and demanding work for our Firefighters in extreme, high temperatures as it takes hours, and sometimes even days, to put wildfires out.”

He also stressed the dangers of wildfires: “Wildfires can be unpredictable and spread fast. They are a threat to wildlife, livestock, environment, property and people.

“Very often these fires are started deliberately. Purposely setting a wildfire is a criminal offence. If you see someone intentionally setting a fire, please report it immediately by calling 999.”

The NIFRS has provided several safety tips to help prevent wildfires: extinguish cigarettes properly, avoid using open fires in the countryside, and do not leave bottles or glass in woodland or grassland.

They also advise being considerate in parking to avoid blocking emergency vehicle access, keeping children away from fire sources, using barbecues safely, and reporting any suspicious fire activity to the PSNI.

NIFRS recruiting on-call firefighters in 12 fire stations

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting for on-call firefighters across 12 stations in Northern Ireland, including Ballycastle, Ballynahinch, Comber, Crossmaglen, Donaghadee, Dromore (Co.

Tyrone), Irvinestown, Keady, Newtownhamilton, Newtownstewart, Portadown, and Portstewart.

The recruitment is open to enthusiastic, flexible, and committed individuals who live or work within five minutes of their local fire station.

On-call firefighters are part-time firefighters who respond to emergency incidents, including fires and road traffic collisions.

They also provide safety advice to their local communities.

NIFRS Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Brian Stanfield, emphasised the importance of these roles: “Our on-call firefighters are the backbone of our Fire & Rescue Service; we simply could not operate or deliver the service we provide without them.”

Stanfield also highlighted the benefits of joining at this time: “This is a really exciting time to be joining NIFRS as we will soon be moving to our new Learning & Development College in Cookstown, a first-class training facility where our on-call firefighters will train and develop.

“Being a firefighter isn’t a job, it’s a vocation. It’s a demanding and rewarding role and you will be working in the heart of the community in keeping them safe.”

The role requires on-call firefighters to respond quickly to emergencies by making their way to the fire station within five minutes when alerted by pager.

The NIFRS is also calling on local employers to support this initiative by allowing their employees to become on-call firefighters, noting the additional skills and experience these individuals can bring to the workplace.

On-call firefighters receive a retaining fee, emergency call-out payments, and a payment for attending a weekly drill night.

They are trained to the highest standards and participate in 12 days of training each year.

Interested candidates can attend open evenings at each station for more information, with details available on the NIFRS website.

The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon on Monday, 3 June 2024.

IFSJ comment

The NIFRS’s focus on preventing wildfires and recruiting on-call firefighters addresses two crucial aspects of fire safety and community protection.

With the anticipated dry weather, the risk of wildfires increases, making public awareness and adherence to safety guidelines essential.

Commander Morrow’s comments underscore the devastating impact of wildfires on the environment, wildlife, and human safety, as well as the significant strain on firefighting resources.

The proactive measures suggested by NIFRS are practical steps that the public can take to mitigate these risks and protect the countryside.

Simultaneously, the recruitment of on-call firefighters is a strategic move to bolster NIFRS’s capacity to respond to emergencies.

On-call firefighters play a vital role in maintaining community safety, and their ability to respond promptly to incidents is crucial.

The new Learning & Development College in Cookstown promises to enhance training and development for these firefighters, ensuring they are well-prepared for the demands of the role.

Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer Brian Stanfield’s appeal to local employers highlights the community-wide benefits of this initiative, fostering a collaborative approach to emergency preparedness and response.

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