30 June 2023
The Department of Health Permanent Secretary Peter May has thanked Firefighters for their response to recent wildfires.
The Permanent Secretary thanked Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) while on a visit to Ballymena Fire Station.
Earlier this month, more than 130 Firefighters were involved in the emergency response to gorse fires in Glenariff, Co. Antrim and Clogher, Co. Tyrone. The substantial resource required to fight the wildfires, while responding to other incidents led NIFRS to declare a Major Incident.
Speaking during the visit, Mr May said:
“The gorse fires in Glenariff and Clogher earlier this month were incredibly severe and will have caused untold to damage to our environment. They also caused significant impact to our fire service. In just 48 hours, NIFRS received 716 emergency calls and attended 318 incidents, with 96 of these being wildfire incidents.
“I am grateful to NIFRS for handling the response so effectively and ensuring that no one was hurt. We are all thankful for the tireless efforts of the fire crews who worked in extreme circumstances to bring the fires under control.
“It’s important, particularly in warmer weather, when we’re enjoying the environment around us that we do so respectfully. We all need to take responsibility for protecting the natural habitat for all species and preserve our landscapes for future generations.”
Interim Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Andy Hearn, said:
“I was pleased to welcome the Permanent Secretary to Ballymena Fire Station and for him to hear first-hand from those involved in the response. Our Firefighters travelled from Fire Stations across Northern Ireland to tackle the wildfires, working long hours in extremely hot and challenging conditions. There were also many others across NIFRS who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support the operational response, including our personnel in our Regional Control Centre and Support Staff.
“The devastation these fires have caused is shocking but sadly things could have been much worse if it wasn’t for the outstanding response of our crews. My plea to people over the next couple of months is to please take care and be extra vigilant when outdoors. These types of incidents are extremely resource intensive and challenging for our Firefighters and we need your support.”