The Government must stick to its pledge to set up a National Fire Authority, union leaders insisted today.
SIPTU national industrial secretary Matt Merrigan welcomed indications from Environment Minister Martin Cullen at a fire officers conference that he intended to set up the authority.
Mr Merrigan said: “We are now starting to see a sense of urgency by the government in addressing this issue as we approach an election.
“But we intend to pursue this matter with the minister to ensure that it is not put on the back boiler when the elections are over.”
Addressing the Chief Fire Officers’ Association annual conference in Wexford, Mr Cullen said Ireland needed a highly skilled and motivated workforce that acted promptly and effectively.
“We must provide top quality training and development opportunities,” he said.
“My vision is for a local fire and rescue service which works actively with local communities and agencies to reduce risks. We need to build on the strengths of the existing service.”
The establishment of a National Fire Authority was one of the recommendations contained in the Farrell Grant Sparks report after a major review of the fire services.
SIPTU has been campaigning to have all the recommendations implemented since the report was published in 2002.
Mr Cullen said that a modern Fire Service must value its people.
He continued: “I believe in the need for a National Fire Authority that provides leadership and direction, that delivers an effective national response that local authorities, working on their own, cannot bring about.”