Retained fire fighters staging a protest in Cavan back in June of this year.

Retained firefighters resume strike action

Retained firefighters in Cavan have resumed their strike as of 12:01am this morning, Wednesday.

The strike is in effect nationally, and impacts all 10 stations across County Cavan. It is in place “indefinitely” according to Joint SIPTU representative for Cavan County, Cian Donohoe, speaking on Tuesday afternoon.

All fire stations will provide “emergency cover for at life risk calls” and will operate at a reduced capacity. Retained firefighters will not participate in training or drills, or maintain the fire station.

They will not contact the Dublin Control Centre but instead will ring the personal mobile of a local rostered officer for any communications.

According to Mr Donohoe, retained firefighters from a minimum of three fire stations will attend every call as of this morning “to make sure the safety of the members is there”.

“We’re doing this for the health and safety of our firefighters and the local community,” Mr Donohoe said.

“We’re not looking to put people's lives at risk, we are there to respond to calls and we will still be responding,” he said, adding that it will be on a “limited basis.”

The strike was organised by SIPTU members after the Labour Court offered “an insult” of a pay increase for retained firefighters. The offer included a 24.1%-32.7% increase on their salary while working on a week-on, week-off basis.


Breaking down the figures, Mr Donohoe asserted this would result in a 23-cent increase per hour on the current rate of 99c.

“Instead of working for 99 cent an hour they were offering us €1.23,” he said of the average retained firefighter’s earnings.

Should the week-on, week-off system be introduced, the average retained firefighter would have a take-home salary of under €14,000.

The Labour Court also proposed to increase staff from nine to 12 in each station and introduce community-based programmes which would increase retained firefighters' hours.

“They can't fill a fire station with nine at the minute,” Cian Donohoe said, explaining that “most stations” are understaffed and running at six or seven members.

“They might on paper say were going to give you extra staff but they're not going to be able to recruit them.”

Structured time off

He said the strikes will continue “until they come back with a proposal that gives us structured time off and structured pay, that’s what we been asking for.”

The industrial action by members is taking place throughout the country after a vote by SIPTU showed that over 80% of retained firefighters rejected proposals by the Labour Court, resulting in continued strike action.

“The biggest issue that we have in the fire service is that young people can't get mortgages or loans.”

Mr Donohoe asserted the model “is not fit for purpose in this day and age”.

“We just feel now that we’ve held a broken service up,” he said.

“We’re going out to actual life-threatening emergency calls, the stuff we’re seeing on a daily basis, the general public don’t see in their lifetime.”


The Killygarry man compared the life of a retained firefighter to being in lockdown, describing the 5km radius restriction imposed during lockdown as their everyday life.

“We’re living that life,” he said, adding they must live and work within 2.5km of their local fire station.

“It’s very restraining, you can't do anything.”

“For the requirements that’s put on us, it’s not a workable job,” he concluded.