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Rathfriland fire appliance fears

Rathfriland could risk losing one of its fire appliances from the town’s fire station.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) confirmed to The Outlook that they are currently carrying out a review of the second fire appliance based at Castle Street.

The station has been left out of a recruitment process for community firefighters which launched last week, despite there being a reduction in the number of stationed part-time firefighters of 25 per cent.

A senior figure from the retained station in Rathfriland told The Outlook this was very concerning news which he says “could put the community at risk”.

He said he has been told that the station is being reviewed by senior figures because “they don’t get enough calls” however, he revealed that in the last two months, the station has received 140 calls.

He added that if the town was only left with one appliance and it was out on a call it “could take 30 minutes for another appliance to get to the town if there was a serious incident”.

“Rathfriland has not been included in this latest recruitment process and they have said they are not going to be recruiting in Rathfriland,” he said.

“We are down 25 per cent in our numbers. The established policy states that for two fire appliances there needs to be 20 people to run a station safely and we only have 15. We need the 20 to allow for guys to be out of town.

“I am concerned they are not recruiting for a number of reasons. We have done 100 calls in July and we are a retained station. We are also down to 15 men, so that means that our firefighters have been attending to calls over and above what they normally do, which has meant that they have been away from their jobs more. We cannot keep going the way we are,” he said.

He added that he was surprised when Rathfriland was not included on the recruitment list, knowing that they need more in the station.

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