The fire service is operated at local authority level by 30 service delivery units. There are 218 fire stations throughout the country with 3,245 serving fire service personnel, of whom 1,206 are full-time and 2,039 are retained (on a 24 hour basis). List of fire stations and fire authorities are provided in related documents.
Local Authorities have a yearly budget of about €240m to run the fire service. The role of the fire services is broad. Activities carried out include:
- responding to fires
- fire prevention work
- community fire safety
- activities related to SEVESO/COMAH installations and dangerous substances;
- “Building Control” and dangerous building service – carrying out fire safety checks;
- leading major emergency management within the local government system and in the inter-agency regional structures
- running mobilisation and communication centres as well as training centres on a regional basis
- working with and in some cases running the Civil Defence service and
- making input to national policy development and delivery.
“Keeping Communities Safe”
(KCS), the policy document which sets the future direction of fire services in Ireland, including the re-alignment of structures to deliver effective fire services. This means the fire services can remain as a local authority function with most importance put on local decision making and local political accountability. Under KCS service delivery is to be reshaped from the current 30 fire services to 21, with 14 single fire authorities and 7 ‘shared services’.
Fire Service Personnel
Details of fire service personnel employed by fire authorities are provided on the right of your screen under publications and documents.
The Fire Brigades Act, 1940 was the basis for the first countrywide fire-fighting system. This made it mandatory for local authorities, urban and rural, to make sure there was a group in place to respond to fires in their area and to try to keep people safe. The authorities had to fund these groups themselves. A local authority could do this either by setting up a fire brigade (in which case it became a fire brigade authority) or by arranging with another authority (or with persons) to keep a fire brigade to cover its district.
The then Minister for Local Government was empowered to inquire, on complaint, into the adequacy of the provision made by a local authority and could, in certain circumstances, require local authorities to co-operate in the provision of a fire service.
The Fire Services Act, 1981 established the fire authorities and led to the fire service being set up including training of fire personnel, fire-fighting and fire safety, and other matters relating to the protection of people and property from fire. The 1981 Act was updated in 2003.
National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management
The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government