Fire officers inflamed over Cullen’s lack of action

FIRE officers have expressed frustration about the failure to establish a National Fire Authority, which was recommended by an expert report two years ago.

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) said it will give Environment Minister Martin Cullen a “robust welcome” when he attends their annual conference in Wexford next month.

“Two full years have elapsed and no action has been taken. This is extremely serious,” said CFOA chairman Tony Gleeson.

Last month, the CFOA warned that the fire service would be unable to cope with a major terrorist attack due to the antiquated structures and lack of fire service involvement in emergency planning.

The association is meeting officials in the Department of the Environment today to discuss its concerns.

The Farrell Grants Sparks report was the first major review of the fire service in 25 years. It found widely varying standards across the 37 separate local authorities and said the service would not stand up to “the inevitable scrutiny and investigation which would follow a major fire or other major emergency incident with multiple casualties”.

The then Environment Minister Noel Dempsey said he hoped to implement the report’s main recommendation, which was the establishment of a new National Fire Authority with an annual budget of up to €4 million to reform the service.

It would take over:

The fire and emergency planning services carried out by the Department of the Environment.

The fire safety duties of the National Safety Council.

The training duties of the Fire Services Council.

Although the Department of the Environment has said some aspects of the Farrell Grants Sparks review have been implemented, Mr Gleeson said this was merely piecemeal reform.

“The National Fire Authority is the cornerstone and everything hangs on that,” he said.

The number of fire deaths dropped significantly from 51 in 2002 to 37 last year but there is still a low per capita spend on the fire service by comparison with other developed countries. There are also wide variations in the budget each local authority devotes to its fire service.

The fire service in Britain, which the CFOA believes is already much stronger than its Irish counterpart, is currently undergoing radical change following the publication of the Bain review in 2001.

A Department of Environment spokesman said e85m had been invested in the fire service since 1997.

He added the establishment of the National Fire Authority was still under consideration.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.