Written answers

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Fire Services

8:00 pm

Photo of Brendan GriffinBrendan Griffin (Kerry South, Fine Gael)
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Question 331: To ask the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government when the findings of the review of the fire service will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17189/11]

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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The provision of a fire service, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs, the provision of premises and the making of such other provisions as it considers necessary or desirable is a statutory function of fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003.

My Department has not undertaken a recent review of the fire services per se, but my Department’s National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management has set out a national blueprint and programme for developing and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Fire Services. This is contained in the recently agreed Irish Fire Services National Development Framework 2010-2015 , which is available on my Department’s website at www.environ.ie. The Framework sets out policies and key actions in the areas of Fire Services Role in Society; National Processes and Standards; Staff Learning and Development; Quality Assurance Systems and Reporting Performance; and Service Infrastructure and Legislative Support.

In addition, in common with other capital programmes, my Department has reviewed its fire services capital programme in order to prioritise projects seeking capital investment. I have recently approved a new programme of joint procurement of fire appliances and expect this collaborative approach will deliver budgetary and administrative savings. Value for money is a key theme in the current climate and future developments will have to be brought to fruition within tighter resource constraints.

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Question 332: To ask the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government if he will give urgent consideration to the establishment of a National Fire Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17208/11]

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Fire services are provided by the 37 statutorily designated fire authorities, and are accordingly structured around the principal local authorities. The 2002 Farrell Grant Sparks review of fire services in Ireland concluded unambiguously that this is an appropriate approach which should be strengthened.

The review’s recommendations in relation to national oversight, co-ordination and leadership were dealt with conclusively through the establishment of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management within my Department in 2009. The Directorate has taken over the functions of the Fire Services Council and is an approach in keeping with the drive to reduce new agencies while providing appropriate political accountability. The Directorate is not a national fire service, and fire authorities continue to deliver this service under the aegis of the local government system.

Given that the Directorate is working well and meeting its mandate, I have no plans to establish a National Fire Authority or conduct a new study of fire services in Ireland.

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Question 333: To ask the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government his views on fire services operating call vetting system, a procedure undertaken after a call is made to the fire service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17209/11]

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Under section 10 of the Fire Services Act, 1981 a fire authority is required to make provision for the delivery of fire services in its functional area, including in particular, responsibility to make adequate provision for the reception of and response to calls for the assistance of the fire brigade.

Fire authorities have successfully worked together with my Department on a shared services initiative to develop a computer- based system to handle emergency calls for the fire service. Under the system known as CAMP (Computer Aided Mobilisation Project), all emergency calls for the fire service are channelled to one of three control centres at Dublin, Castlebar and Limerick and the appropriate fire brigade response is activated from the relevant centre. In addition to dispatching fire service resources, where appropriate, the CAMP control centre will also notify other emergency services e.g. An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive or the Irish Coast Guard. Similarly, other emergency services control centres may direct 999/112 calls to the CAMP system.

The response to emergency calls is based on an initial pre determined attendance (PDA) for the particular incident type at the address given. The PDA is the initial automatic turnout, but can be varied by the officer in charge. The PDAs are set down by the chief fire officer for each fire authority. As part of the CAMP project, PDAs were agreed on a regional basis for the generic incident types by the technical groups and approved by the Regional Management Groups.

The three regional control centres operate to the highest international quality standards. The CAMP project was an early example of the shared services agenda delivering quality public services in a co-ordinated manner.

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