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Westmeath Fire Service was at 603 incidents last year

Westmeath Fire Service attended 603 incidents in the county last year, 251 in Mullingar, 223 in Athlone, Kilbeggan (74), and Castlepollard (55). Of the 406 fires, 57 were chimney fires, 45 were vehicular and 42 were domestic.

The service also attended 109 road traffic incidents and 197 ‘special service’ callouts, anything from cats stuck in trees to river rescues.

Chief fire officer Alan O’Neill told an SPC meeting on Thursday, May 16, that a large percentage of callouts related to anti-social behaviour in areas of Mullingar and Athlone: “We have a problem with cars being set on fire; if someone sets fire to a car, all the emergency services are called to it, including gardaí,” he said. Mr O’Neill said changes have been made following national firefighter strikes over pay and conditions in 2023.

“The number of firefighters has increased from 9 to 12 in Kilbeggan and Castlepollard to allow for more structured time off,” he said. “We have a minimum of 12 retained in each station now but because of the risk profile in Mullingar and Athlone, we have retained 15 in each of those.

“We now have 40 retained firefighters, 12 sub-officers, two retained station officers and two full-time station officers – a total of 56 operational personnel in the county.”