Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Coast Guard Services
505. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if legislation will be introduced to allow emergency vehicles operated by the Irish Coast Guard to use blue lights and sirens; if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of Irish Coast Guard personnel that they will be unable to respond to emergencies effectively in view of traffic congestion in north county Dublin coastal areas, particularly during the summer months; the consideration given to the issue previously; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9278/19]
Under SI 694 and 695 of 2011, Coast Guard vehicles can be fitted with blue lights and warning devices. Arising from a safety review internally, the Coast Guard issued a clarification to its volunteers in relation to how these blue lights and warning devices (sirens) should be used on public roads. This instruction sets out the existing position as regards their use while driving on public roads and it mirrors best practice in other Emergency Services for untrained “Blue-light” drivers.
This notice in no way impacts on the Coast Guard’s status as a Principal Emergency Service. The issue of training Coast Guard volunteers and full-time staff in the correct and safe use of Blue Lights and sirens is being addressed as part of the Coast Guard’s Safety and Risk Work Plan.
Road traffic legislation is under constant review. Any changes in this regard impacting on the Coast Guard need to balance the safety of staff, whether full-time or voluntary, members of the public as well as those to whom the Coast Guard is responding.