Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Department of Defence
Air Corps Operations
100. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the precise time the request for the Air Corps to be deployed to provide support to local fire services tending to the recent wildfires in County Donegal was received; when formal approval for the Air Corps helicopter to be dispatched was granted as per the request; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20586/19]
As the Deputy is aware, the primary responsibility in terms of fire fighting lies with the fire service and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
The Air Corps does not have a dedicated resource allocated to aerial fire-fighting. However, following a request from Chief Fire Officer in Donegal through the National Directorate of Fire and Emergency Management in the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government early Easter Monday, my Department contacted the Air Corps immediately to ascertain resource availability.
Following this Departmental contact, the Air Corps moved immediately to assemble the necessary personnel. This took some time as some of the pilots and crew assembled from their time off, from a distance, but was achieved as quickly as possible in the circumstances. Formal written approval followed when ability to accede to the request for support was confirmed.
The Defence Forces can provide a significant support role in a major emergency response. However, military assistance and support may not always be available and Defence Force capabilities is dependent on the exigencies of the service and within available resources at the time.