Technical issue caused ‘marginal increase’ in response time to emergency

There have been a number of technical issues at Enniskillen Fire Station, resulting in at least one occasion which “marginally increased” the time it took for firefighters to respond.

The details, obtained by Your Right to Know via a Freedom of Information request, show four incidents where retained firefighters experienced technical issues with equipment during one month.

On August 15, 2015, an issue with the station’s alerts system or pagers was discovered and found to be “spurious” with no instruction sent by the control centre and no local alert issued to firefighters.

The technical issue, however, did not impact on the firefighters’ capacity to attend the incident, according to a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

On August 19, the same issue occurred again but this time it “may have had a limited impact on the time of attendance” but the fire service said this was difficult to quantify as at the time of the call only two retained firefighters were available.

“A full back-up had already been mobilised.”

The next day, the fire service recorded a problem within firefighters’ equipment during an incident in Enniskillen.

“This technical issue may have marginally increased the time taken to respond to Enniskillen Station” according to a spokesperson, adding that this too was difficult to quantify as a control centre supervisor for the fire and rescue service who took the alert “immediately initiated the process of contacting Enniskillen retained firefighters by telephone.”

A few minutes after this issue, retained firefighters in Enniskillen were mobilised to another incident which again presented a fault alert.

“This technical issue did not impact on NIFRS capacity to attend this incident as Enniskillen Retained Firefighters had already responded to the Station following the telephone contact from the previous call and as a result there was no impact upon turnout,” said a spokesperson.

It emerged in August of last year that firefighters in Enniskillen did not attend the scene of a road traffic accident because their pagers stopped working for more than 30 hours.

When an emergency call is made in Fermanagh it is transferred to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service’s control centre in Lisburn before being processed and tasked to the various fire crews.

Each firefighter carries a special pager which alerts them to the incident and calls them into their station, such as Enniskillen, where they receive a briefing of the incident.