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Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ieDUBLIN FIRE BRIGADE (DFB) is operating at reduced capacity this week due to a dispute over overtime remuneration.Firefighters and paramedics across the service have made themselves unavailable for overtime duty on four days this week in protest at their overtime rate of pay.At present, DFB pays its employees 1.25 times the normal hourly rate for overtime worked. This compares with the time-and-a-half earned by firefighters in all other Irish full-time jurisdictions (with the exception of Louth, which has its own contracts and scale), and also with the 1.5 times hourly rate available to other Dublin City Council (DCC) workers.The news comes amid reports that a number of DFB fire engines were ruled as being out of service on two separate occasions last week due to the unavailability of the overtime labour needed to staff them.The unofficial stoppages this week happened on Monday and Tuesday, are set to continue today, and will conclude on Friday (Thursday is being exempted so as to prevent a situation where one watch is penalised twice for missing two days’ worth of overtime).However, the stoppages are only occurring during day-shifts, as opposed to non-regular hours where overtime becomes of even more importance.Yesterday, 30 operational positions on DFB fire engines were not filled – six officers and 24 firefighters – which saw the service run about 20% below minimum safety numbers. Meanwhile, an engine at Donnybrook Fire Station was taken out of service and its crew sent to other stations to shore up numbers.“It’s happening across the board and seems to be well-supported,” a source told TheJournal.ie. “There is wariness as it’s not an official action, but yesterday and today the support has been 100%.”“Under the current regime Dublin Fire Brigade personnel are not disadvantaged in any way in the calculation and payment of overtime,” a DFB spokesperson told TheJournal.ie when asked for comment on the matter.Overtime is voluntary within Dublin Fire Brigade, but it appears that it has become something of a necessity in recent years in order to meet standards of service.At present DFB employs roughly 900 people across six Districts, with 12 full-time stations and two part-time stations.“I do overtime because I have to make ends meet,” one worker who’s participating in the action told us. “We’re being paid less than less well-trained workers in other places.3 fire engines from Tallaght & Dolphins Barn stns are dealing with a field/trees fire in Rathcoole #Dublin #fire pic.twitter.com/DPfEmW4U1d— Dublin Fire Brigade (@DubFireBrigade) July 24, 2017
Source: Dublin Fire Brigade/Twitter3 fire engines from Tallaght & Dolphins Barn stns are dealing with a field/trees fire in Rathcoole #Dublin #fire pic.twitter.com/DPfEmW4U1dA number of sources within DFB itself have described the service as being the “best-trained” such division in Ireland, yet firefighters and paramedics working there earn less overtime than those employed elsewhere.“We have paramedics and advanced medical staff, no other fire service in Ireland has that, and many in the UK and Europe don’t either,” one source said.Escalation of the action is expected to be announced on Friday evening, with overtime strikes planned for an additional four weeks.Exempt“Yesterday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said ‘there should be equal pay for equal work and equal experience’ – over the RTÉ pay row,” said Ros MacCobb, spokesperson for the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) today.“This isn’t union-driven, it’s the firefighters on the ground who are looking for this,” MacCobb told TheJournal.ie.The unofficial nature of the stoppage is borne out by a Siptu spokesperson, who said they were “unaware” of the action.MacCobb believes the denial of time-and-a-half to firefighters on DFB is “to save money”. “When there was an embargo on hiring staff during the austerity years DFB was exempt because staff levels had to be kept above a minimum level,” he says.“A service shouldn’t be reliant on overtime for basic numbers. Between that and the overtime – they’re false economies. We’re told it’s in line with DFB policy, but we’ve looked for that policy under freedom of information and been told there isn’t one.”
Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ieMacCobb likewise says coupled with the “discontent” with the lower rate of overtime is a general unhappiness in the fire service with the funding of equipment.DFB recently bought four second-hand turntable ladder engines retired from service in the UK with “crew cabs that only fit two members, when the service here operates with crews of three”, according to MacCobb.“They’re over 15 years old already and were deemed not fit for purpose in another country. The age of the fleet is an issue – some of the machines are getting on to 20 years old,” he says (pictures of the various appliances in use by DFB can be seen here).