Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
The provision of a fire service in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of fire station premises, is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under the Fire Services Acts, 1981 and 2003. My Department supports the fire authorities through setting general policy, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding for equipment and priority infrastructural projects.
In December 2020, I announced a new Fire Services Capital Programme for the period 2021-2025, with a funding allocation of €61m. Following extensive engagement with fire authorities, a number of proposals for station works etc. were received. The proposals were evaluated and prioritised on the basis of the:
- Area Risk Categorisation of the fire station (population, fire risks, etc.);
- established Health and Safety needs;
- state of development of the project (is site acquired, etc.?); and
- value for money offered by the proposal.
This new Programme will see six new fire stations built, continued support for the construction of a further 12 new fire stations, nine fire station refurbishments as well as the allocation of 35 new fire engines. In order to maximise the available Capital Programme funding, my Department re-assesses the status of projects in the Programme on an annual basis, and some flexibility is normally available to advance projects that are ready and that offer best value-for-money taking account of the state of readiness of projects more generally.
A new fire station at Loughrea, as well as one at Athenry, is included in my Department’s 2021 – 2025 Fire Services Capital Programme. Galway County Council has indicated that the replacement of Loughrea Fire Station, at an estimated cost of €1.26 million, is their fourth fire station priority. The Council submitted a preliminary appraisal and outline cost plan to my Department. My Department recently requested a design brief from the Council; this information has been received and is under consideration. My Department will continue to work with Galway County Council to progress the Loughrea fire station project.
Project consideration stages in my Department include submission of preliminary and detailed appraisals; submission of design brief; selection of site; application for approval in principle; appointment of design consultants; submission of a preliminary design; planning application; submission of preliminary cost plan, detailed design and cost plans; and tender process and construction stages - each step subject to approval from my Department.
Projects in the Capital Programme will be reassessed on an annual basis in order to maximise the available Capital Programme funding. This includes consideration of additional fire station projects from fire authorities which fit the normal fire station project criteria and where an appropriate business case is presented. Priority may be adjusted to bring forward projects offering best value-for-money and to take account of the state of readiness of the projects.