County councillors have described as “shocking” news that an additional fire service has not been provided in Connemara, as it could take an hour or more for fire brigade units from the Galway city, or Clifden station, to respond to emergency call outs in some part of this vast area.
This comes as an appraisal of the future provision of fire services for the western environs has found “there is not a conclusive case for an additional fire station in the western environs”. However, it did acknowledge that if funding and extra resources were made available a station in An Cheathrú Rua would be the preferred location.
The report also warned that at some state the Galway City Council will have to allow for an expanded city brigade to cater for and to facilitate the growth of the city, and that this would warrant a new base in the vicinity, preferably at Liosbaun. It advised that this new station may exist in tandem with Fr Griffin Road, which would be retained and support the new station as well as part of the western environs.
Following the presentation of the report a motion put forward by Cllr Seosamh Ó Cuaig was passed calling on Galway County Council to support the provision of a fire station in the south Connemara area and urging the Government to provide the funds to build such a station.
The assessment on the provision of fire services was designed on the basis of geography and population. For the purposes of the report, the western environs was considered as the area west of Galway city (An Spidéal ) to Clifden station boundary. There were three hypothetical, or notional, station grounds considered - An Spidéal, Oughterard, and An Cheathrú Rua. The report assessed the three years of incident data, potential changes in demographics, and the various potential station permutations throughout the whole of the western environs, as well as applying nine criteria which took into account population and effects on other stations. It found “there is not a conclusive case for an additional fire station in the western environs”. However, the report did acknowledge “a residual risk still remains” and that a station at An Cheathrú Rua would be the preferred location because it is the most effective option in terms of population covered within 20 minutes travel time.
“I find it shocking that there isn’t a conclusive case for an additional fire service for Connemara,” said Cllr Eileen Mannion. “The people of south Connemara have been lobbying for years. There’s no need for a second service within the city,” said Cllr Mannion, who then suggested that if a new station were provided at Liosbaun the site at Fr Griffin Road should be sold to free up money for a service in Connemara.
Cllr Seosamh Ó Laoi then suggested that Casla would be a better location than An Ceathrú Rua as it would have quicker access to parts of Connemara.
Still maintaining that there was a case for an additional station Cllr Seosamh Ó Cuaig said: “If we go out canvassing and say to the people of Connemara there are 10 stations in the county, eight of them east of Galway city, you’re asking them to be happy with chimney sweeping programmes, alarms, and voluntary services. We don’t want other stations touched, but we have the same risk category as Portumna and Mountbellew. We should stand on our own case for a station and the case is there. According to Google Maps it takes 59 minutes to get from Galway city to Lettermullen. Calling Clifden it takes one hour seven minutes. In Tuam you could have six fire units out within half an hour, that’s including two that can be called from Mayo for a real emergency. That is our situation.”