SIPTU fire fighters are set to commence a national ballot for industrial action if the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government attempts to implement changes to working practices that would endanger fire fighters and the communities they serve. SIPTU Full-time Fire Fighter National Committee member, Bryan Murray, said: “Our members are very concerned about the serious health and safety implications for themselves and the communities they serve if the so-called ‘Keeping Communities Safe’ document is implemented at the behest of the Department of the Environment by local authorities across the State. Essentially the proposals contained within this document will lead to a reduction in the number of fire fighters manning a fire appliance.“SIPTU has sought specific information regarding the relevant risk assessment and research documentation used by the department’s Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management in reaching its conclusions. However, the Department has refused to share this critical information with us.”SIPTU Sector Organiser, Owen Reidy, said: “It seems that this plan is a crude attempt on behalf of the Department to save money. Efficiencies and cost savings are critical but it is unacceptable when it compromises both a safe system of work and the welfare of fire fighters and the public at large.”“SIPTU has advocated a national fire service for Ireland rather than the status quo of a network of in excess of 30 fire brigades across the country. We believe a national fire service would be more efficient and make the necessary savings with synergies and economies of scale in training, procurement and a flatter management structure.“If the Department of the Environment and the employers concerned, which are the relevant local authorities, seek to implement this change unilaterally, we have a mandate from our national committees to ballot our full-time and retained members across the fire services throughout the state for a variety of forms of industrial action,”