Fire officers in Westmeath have reported a dramatic reduction in the number of fire-related calll-outs in the past five years.
Figures released by the Irish Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA ) reveal that the total number of call-outs dropped from 1175 in 2007 to 814 in 2011, a reduction of 21 per cent.
Of these, the number of actual fires attended by Westmeath fire services fell by 24 per cent, from 646 in 2007 to 494 in 2011.
Road traffic accidents accounted for 254 of the 2007 call-outs in Westmeath, but this figure fell to just 89 in 2011.
There was a less significant reduction in the number of malicious false alarms recorded in Westmeath, a fall from 34 in 2007 to 30 in 2011. However the figure was lower again in 2008 when there were 22 malicious false alarms.
The CFOA believes the introduction of fire and road safety awareness initiatives in recent years has contributed to the dramatic reduction in the number of emergency call-outs.
Nationally, the number of fire-related call-outs dropped by 14 per cent over the five-year period, while the number of road traffic accidents attended by fire services decreased by 24 per cent.
The CFOA also reported that the number of fire fatalities recorded nationally during the first four months of 2012 is significantly lower than the corresponding period during the previous five years. Seven fire-related deaths have been recorded so far this year compared to 17 during the same period in 2011 and 24 in 2007.
The CFOA said that a considerable amount of work is being carried out by Fire and Rescue Service units in each of Ireland’s local authority areas to further enhance fire and road safety awareness, and that the effectiveness of the schemes was reflected in the relevant figures for the five-year period.