SIPTU members in the Retained Fire Service across the country have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike action, in a dispute resulting from a failure by management to address a worsening recruitment and retention crisis. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien, said: “Our members have voted in local authority areas across the country by, on average, more than 90% to take strike action due to the failure by management to meaningfully address an ongoing recruitment and retention crisis. This situation has exposed both our firefighter members and the public to heightened risks. “Almost 2000 Retained Fire Service members are organised in SIPTU across 200 fire stations nationally. They are required to provide 24/7 emergency response and restrict their movement, at all times while on call, to within typically five minutes travel time of their fire station. Many firefighters are unable to take their leave entitlements due to staff shortages and they have also seen their incomes drastically reduced due to reductions in call outs over the last number of years and other restrictions imposed by the Fire Service.”   He added: “Many of our members are now unable to do basic things such as obtain mortgage approval because of the precarious nature of their income. The Retained Fire Service is now at a critical stage with many firefighters seeking to leave the service and Local Authorities are struggling to recruit and retain new staff.” SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “SIPTU has been calling for urgent measures to be introduced to address this crisis, which must include basic entitlements of structured pay and leave arrangements for Retained Firefighters. “We note that the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, has published a Review of the Recruitment and Retention and the Future Sustainability of Service Delivery of the Retained Fire Service, which contains a number of recommendations to address the crisis in the service. SIPTU representatives will attend with government and Local Authority officials a meeting of the Fire Services Oversight and Implementation Group on 27th January to discuss the implementation of the recommendations contained within this report.” He added: “If urgent progress is not made on these critical issues, Local Authorities across the country will be notified of the commencement of industrial action by our members.”