THE Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) have said the reason neighbouring fire stations were deployed to Enniskillen Fire Station to provide cover in August was due to firefighters at that station undertaking "other organisational activities".

The Impartial Reporter learned that on a number of days in August, crews from Dromore, Castlederg, Fintona and Omagh were sent to Enniskillen to provide fire cover as the Fermanagh station was unable to do so.

The Enniskillen station has been manned by part-time firefighters since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as the wholetime crew that was stationed there was relocated to Omagh.

In response to questions from this paper about the lack of fire cover, a NIFRS spokesperson said: “On April 6, 2020, in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, we amalgamated a number of fire stations in line with the risk profile in the local community.

"Currently, wholetime crews previously based at Enniskillen, Monday to Friday, from 8am and 6pm, are co-located at Omagh Fire Station, where they provide operational response for the same periods to emergency incidents with the support of neighbouring fire stations, when required.

"As with all actions related to Covid-19, this situation is kept under constant review.

“On August 28, firefighters from Enniskillen Fire Station were required to undertake other organisational activities.

"In line with normal service delivery practices, appliances from neighbouring fire stations were forward deployed to Enniskillen Fire Station to provide operational response; however, they were not required to be mobilised to any incidents.

"The wholetime crew from Enniskillen, co-located at Omagh Fire Station, were available to respond when on duty throughout the rest of August.”

When asked to clarify what "other organisational activities" were, the NIFRS spokesperson said it was Safety Critical Training and Practical Aptitude Testing.

Also, despite saying the wholetime crew from Enniskillen was "co-located" at Omagh Fire Station, the NIFRS have confirmed that they have only been based primarily in Omagh, and not Enniskillen.

"The crews were amalgamated and are primarily based at Omagh. This does not preclude the possibility that the crew may be mobilised to standby or attend incidents within Enniskillen or other station areas, based on normal mobilising protocols," said the spokesperson said.