FIREFIGHTERS were unable to attend two emergency calls in Newbridge recently because they were unable to get to the fire station due to the chronic traffic situation in the town, a county councillor has claimed.
Cllr Murty Aspell called on the council to provide emergency blue lights for vehicles of on-call staff at Newbridge Fire Station, so they can get through the traffic without delay.
“I know for a fact that on two occasions this month alone firefighters were not able to get out to chimney fires because of the density of traffic,” said Cllr Aspell.
“That’s not acceptable.”
He said it was the third month in a row that he has had to raise the issue of Newbridge’s traffic problem.
“It’s getting worse. There doesn’t seem to be any let up,” he said.
He said it is unfair to ask these emergency workers to get to the fire station within the allocated 10 minutes when the traffic is so bad.
He raised the issue at Wednesday’s Kildare-Newbridge municipal district meeting and expressed his annoyance that no one from the fire station was present to deal with his queries.
In a written report chief fire officer Celina Barrett said road traffic regulations allow the use of blue lights on vehicles in certain circumstances only. They can be used by gardai in performance of their duty, on fire brigade vehicles, the Irish Prison Service, an Irish Coast Guard vehicle and for the delivery or collection of human transplant organs, human blood or human blood products.
“Private vehicles used by firefighters to get to their station is not covered by the legislation and any requirement to provide such lights would require an amendment of the primary legislation in this area,” she stated.
Senior roads officer Evelyn Wright said there is a major emergency plan in place in the county. She said that although she is not a member of this team she would take Cllr Aspell’s concerns back to Ms Barrett who is.
Cllr Morgan McCabe agreed that there is a serious issue with traffic in the town.
“Newbridge is in gridlock at the moment,” he said.
“To be here for this meeting at 9am I had to leave at 7.50am, a journey that should take 15 minutes. Traffic is just physically stopped on Main Street,” he said.
He suggested as a simple solution that private vehicles be classed as fire fighter vehicles.