Investigation launched after female fire fighter nearly choked to death.

A FEMALE fire fighter nearly died in a house fire after the air pipe on her breathing apparatus disconnected.
Instead of breathing in oxygen, she ended up taking in toxic black smoke and nearly choked to death.
Quick-thinking colleagues spotted her in distress and pulled her out of the building on Richmond Road, Dublin.
She was then rushed by ambulance to the nearby Mater Hospital for treatment.
The incident, which happened about five minutes after the fire fighter entered the building after the force received a 999 call to the premises around 4am last Thursday week, July 2, is now being investigated by Dublin Fire Brigade.
It is the second such investigation in almost as many weeks by the force into injuries sustained by its fire-crew during call-outs.
One is under way into the force’s handling of the June 10 Portmarnock sewerage tragedy in which two men died.
While attempting to rescue Alan and Stephen Harris, who had been trying to clear a blockade in the sewerage system on the exclusive Drumnigh Wood Estate in north Co Dublin, three fire crew were injured.
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said last night: ‘As part of standard operational procedures, Dublin Fire Brigade is conducting an investigation into this incident.
‘All matters relating to the incident will be duly dealt with within this framework.
‘We have nothing further to add on this incident.’
A spokesperson for Scott Safety – which makes the breathing apparatus Dublin Fire Brigade uses – said last night: ‘Scott Safety confirms that they are aware of the alleged incidents at Dublin Fire Brigade and will fully cooperate with the investigation team.
‘Our number one priority is and has always been the safety of the firefighters and all users of our equipment.
‘We are continuing to closely monitor this situation and will provide additional information as it becomes available.’
Thursday’s incident is the latest of a string of mishaps involving the force’s controversial breathing apparatus.
Last month, on June 16, there was another incident involving one of the force’s breathing apparatus (BA) system.
A fire fighter attending a 2am house fire in the Kilbarrack area of Dublin had to discard his BA after the air cylinder on his back dropped out of the back plate holding it in place.
Although user error was suspected, it dropped out because of a faulty couplet holding it in place.
The faulty BA set has now been sent away for repair.
Last September, a fireman was left gasping for air while fighting a blaze in a burning building when his breathing apparatus malfunctioned.
As the time, it was second incident in eight weeks this had happened.
And it followed on from an incident in January when the breathing apparatus of two other firemen stopped working during an operation to rescue eight people from a blazing building.
As at the time, at least another eight ‘catastrophic episodes of equipment failures’ had been reported to Dublin City Council chiefs in less than two years.
In September’s case, a fireman had reached the first landing in a derelict building opposite Coombe Hospital on Cork Street, in Dublin’s south inner city.
His crew, from Dolphins Barn station, had rushed to the 7.30pm fire fearing there might have been someone inside.
But as they began fighting the blaze inside, the breathing apparatus of one firefighter suddenly stopped working.
That and an earlier malfunction during a training exercise in Blanchardstown, were also investigated.
Since last September, DFB has made a number of improvements and taken on board a number of safety concerns raised by the Irish Fire and Emergency Service Association (IFESA)
The association launched a High Court action against Dublin City Council over the ‘regular failures’ of the Scott ACSFX BA apparatus and the case is ongoing.
The union has claimed not enough was being done to address their concerns about this equipment, which was introduced into the brigade in late 2011.
Shortly after the equipment was introduced, however, issues started to emerge.

Red Bull Crashed Ice qualifiers Dublin and Belfast


This weekend saw the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Series qualifiers in Blanchardstown and Belfast.


They were part of Red Bull’s search to find athletes from across the country to participate in a world series in the winter extreme sporting event of ice cross downhill.


It is a four man full-contact, high-speed, downhill ice skating race along a 440 metre track, with steep turns and vertical drops, reaching speeds of up to 60 km/h in a timed battle, where the first to the bottom wins.


Over 140 competitors will take part in the race on a assault course that has been specifically designed for Ireland.


The track will be positioned in front of Stormont Parliament Buildings, Belfast and enjoyed by 40,000 spectators over two days in February.

Crashed Ice contestants after the Dublin qualifiers in Blanchardstown.
Crashed Ice contestants after the Dublin qualifiers in Blanchardstown.

These are a few random shots from this weekend’s two qualifiers.

Crashed Ice contestants after the Belfast qualifiers.
Crashed Ice contestants after the Belfast qualifiers.

Albert Reynolds removal to Sacred Heart

Some photographs from the removal earlier this evening of former taoiseach Albert Reynolds, who died this week after a long battle with alzheimer’s disease.


Dublin Zoo baby elephant makes first appearance

DUBLIN ZOO have announced the birth of its second bull calf this year. And here he is.


Following on from the last one born just six weeks ago, this little blighter weighed in at 70kg and has since grown to nearly a metre in height.

He was born after a staggering 22-month gestation period and will feed from his mother for a further FIVE years.

According to Dublin Zoo director Leo Oosterweghel, the other Asian elephant females in the herd at the zoo kneeled around this as-yet-un-named baby’s mother while she was giving birth.

He told the Irish Times: ‘I live in the zoo and I could hear them about 400 metres away.

‘When the calf was born, they gave him a little nudge and he stood up after seven minutes.

‘It all went extremely well.’

Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke has named October the Month of the Elephant in honour of the little new arrivals, who can be viewed on the zoo’s webcam.

Naming of the new calf is down to members of the public, who have been invited to send their suggestions to the Natural Confectionary Company – which sponsors the habitat where they live in the zoo.

Despite the obvious ‘ah’ factor here though, there are a few ethical issues to consider.

Asian elephants are an endangered species.

According to National Geographic, these elephants have been domesticated for centuries and ‘employed to move heavy objects, such as felled trees, to carry humans on their backs, and even to wage war’.

But their numbers are dwindling and are now listed as an endangered species by the Indian Government as well being included on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Helping with their endangerment is the growth in the human population and resulting encroachment into their natural habitat, a reduction in areas exclusively reserved for them in the wild, poaching and an increase in railway-related accidents since the Indian government increased the size, speed and range of their railways.


According to the World Wildlife Fund, the population of Asian elephants has dropped from 100,000 at the start of the 20th century by about 50% over the last 60-75 years.

The WWF also points out that about 20% of the world’s human population lives in or around the areas where Asian elephants live in the wild.

The number of Asian elephants living in the wild have now dwindled to somewhere between an estimated 25,600 and 32,750

One of the main solutions to arrest the Asian elephant population decline are what are known as ‘Elephant Corridors’, and Dublin Zoo funds a number of these.

According to its website, Dublin Zoo has been supporting Asian elephant conservation projects since 2008.

Then, it joined forces with the (Asian) Elephant Family charity and in 2010, along with them and the World Wildlife Trust of India, they funded research into establishing corridors in north east India.

The Dublin Zoo website states: ‘After preliminary studies, the Kalapahr-Daigurung corridor was selected for further investigation as it offered the best prospects of establishing a viable corridor and elephants regularly pass through this area.

‘This corridor would connect the Kalioni Reserve Forest and the Kaziranga National Park (biodiversity hotspot and World Heritage Site).

‘Local people have been surveyed about their use of the corridor, the local planning authorities have been notified of its presence and signage has been erected advising people to minimise their presence here and to take precautions if passing through.

‘Further ecological studies need to be conducted before the corridor is procured’.


As well as working to set up these corridors, Dublin Zoo – recently voted one of the best in Europe –  is also very active in raising awareness of their plight.

It, for example, helps Elephant Family run the Elephant Parade Classroom Challenge in Ireland, an international fund-raising art competition.

But the whole issue of elephants in captivity is not without its critics.

Peta, for example, is currently running a campaign to ‘Get Elephants Out of Zoos’. And there is an emerging raft of studies which make observations about the ethics of keeping elephants in Zoos.

One of these is the ‘Compromised survivorship, fecundity and population persistence in zoo elephants’ research paper.


An ‘extract’ from this study reads as follows:

‘Keeping elephants in zoos is extremely costly, yet does not yield self-sustaining populations. In Europe, which holds c. half the global zoo elephant population, a long-term decline of c.10% per year is expected in both species, if reliant on zoo-bred animals under historically prevailing conditions.

‘Fitness in zoos is compromised in several ways.

‘Compared with protected in situ populations (Burmese working Asians; Kenyan free-living Africans), zoo elephants show premature reproductive senescence and — despite improving adult survivorship for Africans — die earlier in adulthood than expected.

‘In Asian elephants, infant survivorship in zoos is also greatly reduced relative to Burmese elephants, and furthermore, zoo-born animals die earlier in adulthood than wild-caught conspecifics kept in zoos, via effects ‘programmed’ peri-natally. In this species, being transferred between zoos also increases mortality rates.

‘Both survival and fecundity would need to improve to attain self-sustaining zoo populations. Our findings demonstrate deficits in zoo elephant management, particularly for Asians, and implicate stress and obesity as likely problems.


‘The welfare implications of captivity, and the relative cost and effectiveness of ex versus in situ conservation, determine the value of captive breeding for any given species.

‘Several species apparently thrive in zoo conditions and captive breeding has saved some from extinction.

‘However, ex situ conservation is typically costlier than in situ programs, captive-bred individuals often fare poorly in the wild and many species show reproductive failure and elevated mortality in captivity, raising ethical concerns particularly when stress is implicated.

‘Asian and African elephants (who can live up to about 60 years in the wild, according to National Geographic) exemplify such problems.

‘The zoo elephant populations of North America are non-self-sustaining, and require importation from range countries – a practice criticized by the IUCN.

‘Both species are naturally wide-ranging and socially complex,  and the large disparities between in situ and zoo environments have elicited concerns about elephant welfare in captivity.


‘Furthermore, zoo elephants have troubling rates of lameness, infertility, infanticide, tuberculosis and Herpes.

‘Nevertheless many zoos argue that their elephants are vital for conservation, and that their viability is improving.

‘These arguments underpin commitments to spend very large sums relative to in situ conservation costs: around €40million per year in maintenance and, in the last decade, over €407million in facility upgrades worldwide.’

Why all of the above?

It’s sparked in part by a simple one-worded comment someone left on Random Irish Photos’ Instagram account.


Contact: randomirishphotos @

MOD70s in Dublin on European Tour.

More pictures from Friday’s racing, can be found at the website for Random Irish Life – a two-week long random photographic tour of Ireland.

Dublin Tall Ships 2012 – Amerigo Vespucci.

Italy’s Amerigo Vespucci arrives at the East Link Bridge for the Dublin Tall Ships Festival.

Tall Ships Dublin 2012 – Cuauhtemoc

Shots of the Mexican Navy‘s Cuauhtemoc off shore and then being escorted up the Liffey for the Tall Ships Festival.

(Many thanks to Michael Parker for organising a place on a Dublin Port Authority boat out to meet the Cuauhtemoc and the crew of the launch that got out there.)