Waterford County Chief Fire Officer Tony McCarthy came in for stinging criticism from a member of Tramore Town Council this week who described him as “a law unto himself”.
Cllr. Blaise Hannigan, responding to a suggestion that Mr. McCarthy be invited to a Council meeting to discuss the town’s fire fighting service, advised his colleagues to write down the questions “because otherwise you will not get answers”. Anyway, he maintained, the CFO would not attend a Council meeting. And he further alleged that, like in other service areas, Dungarvan received preferential treatment compared with Tramore.
But Town Manager Brian White sprung to the defence of Mr. McCarthy, describing Cllr. Hannigan’s attack as neither fair nor accurate.
The subject arose when Mayor Joe Conway tabled a motion calling on the County Council to upgrade the resort’s fire vehicles, install urgently an extractor system at the fire station and initiate a suitability study with a view to moving the station to a more suitable location.
The Mayor said one of the two fire tenders was a quarter of a century old and should have been decommissioned long ago and firemen had long complained that the Pond Road location of the station was totally unsuitable because of access and exit problems.
Cllr. Dan Cowman recalled that the only reason it was built there was that it was the only site readily available and there was a fear that if the allocation wasn’t spent smartly it would have been lost.
After Cllr. Hannigan launched his tirade against the CFO, Mr. White referred him to a written response to the Mayor’s motion, provided by Mr. McCarthy, saying he could not have been more fair or open and addressed the issues in an exemplary manner.
In that response Mr. McCarthy said the eldest of the fire station’s two tenders – which was 25 years old – was scheduled for replacement. Department funding for vehicles enabled the County Council to replace one vehicle a year. Funding had been made available for a new extraction system to be installed this year.
He said the fire station was refurbished in 2001 at a cost of €400,000 and there were no plans to replace it. But he undertook to commence the process immediately of examining suitable sites for a new station. At the same time, funding for new stations came from central funds and proposals for new stations were dependent on such funding.
Mr. White said Mr. McCarthy could not have done any more than respond in writing as he did and, having given a commitment to start the process of searching for a more suitable site, he should be allowed time to do so.
The Mayor agreed with that, but it was agreed to invite Mr. McCarthy to a Council meeting anyway.