Hogan publishes 2 major reports on Fire Services in Ireland “Keeping Communities Safe” and “CAMP – The Next Generation”
Hogan publishes 2 major reports on Fire Services in Ireland
“Keeping Communities Safe” and “CAMP – The Next Generation”
Minister Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, today (7 February, 2013) published two major reports on the future direction of the fire service in Ireland, which he has adopted as national policy, and announced that the implementation phase starts now.
Fire safety in our communities is paramount, and the policy documents launched today include good practice currently benefiting the public in terms of driving down the annual loss from fire. Minister Hogan acknowledged the improvements in fire safety in Ireland “The number of fire incidents is being driven down year on year. While every death from fire is a death too many, I note that the provisional toll for 2012, with 28 people killed in fires, is the lowest annual figure for fire deaths for four decades. I congratulate everyone involved in fire safety and fire services for the work and changes you have brought about to achieve this consistent reduction in Ireland’s fire death rate.”
Keeping Communities Safe
The “Keeping Communities Safe” (KCS) document is the blueprint for the future direction of the fire service which will deliver consistent, effective and value for money fire services in Ireland while continuing to reduce the risk from fires in our communities and prioritising the safety of fire personnel in their work. KCS has been developed using a risk management approach, where risks are identified, classified and used to prioritise fire service activity in prevention, protection and response. This approach is fully in keeping with best international practice.
For the first time in Ireland, national standards for fire service delivery are set out in KCS, against which current service provision can be benchmarked. KCS sets challenging targets for further improvement to be achieved by fire authorities. It also examines the roles appropriate for the fire service and the structures to deliver services.
KCS puts into practice the provisions of the recently published Local Government reform agenda “Putting People First” in applying the ‘shared services’ concept. This provides for a reduction in the number of fire service delivery units from 30 to 21. Minister Hogan said this reflected his preference to achieve necessary efficiencies, while maintaining the fire service within local government, rather than migrate towards a national fire service as had been suggested in some submissions.
The final KCS document has evolved from a considered development process, including consultation with stakeholders. This process was overseen by the Management Board of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management in the Department, with international input and oversight from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service.
The Minister acknowledged the value of fire services in their communities. He noted that front-line fire-fighters have been protected from the embargo on public service recruitment and their numbers have not decreased since 2008, in contrast with 25% reduction in local authority staff, including the senior fire officer numbers.
CAMP – Next Generation
CAMP is the acronym for Computer Aided Mobilisation Project – the fire service’s 999/112 emergency call-taking service for the public. This is the system which supports the operators to take the 999 calls from the public, identify their location and mobilise the appropriate initial response. The current three communications centre maintain radio communications with the responding fire service and also have a co-ordinating role in major emergencies. The regional communication centres also gather, collate and makes available detailed information for fire authorities.
The current system is 20 years old and, for a number of technical and practical reasons, it was decided to plan for the next generation. The CAMP Report examined a range of options, and sets out the preferred option which involves moving from three separate region-based communication systems to a single national system with nodes at the current three CAMP centres. Fire services will migrate to the National Digital Radio Service provided by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and currently used by other emergency services.
Both policy documents are available on the Department’s website at www.environ.ie
Notes for Editors
What ‘Keeping Communities Safe’ is
• A comprehensive, balanced strategy based on a combination of fire prevention, fire protection and response to ensure public safety and that people remain safe from fire in their homes and other locations;
• An integrated blue-print for further development of critical public safety roles performed by fire services, to be implemented in the period 2013 – 2015, that addresses risk, public safety improvement, incident reduction, response standards and structures which are based on a Risk Management Approach.
• An evidence led plan, based on international best practice and with international expert validation.
What Keeping Communities Safe does
• Deals with key issues including reform of structures, the roles of fire services in society, sets strategies and standards for effectiveness and quality assurance processes;
• Sets out the approach, standards and expectations for fire service delivery by local authorities in Ireland ;
• Sets challenging outcome targets to be achieved by the end of the implementation period in Dec 2015.
What is new in Keeping Communities Safe
• Service delivery to be reshaped from current 30 fire services to 21, based on developing and extending a “shared services” approach which provides for populations of 120 to 200 thousand persons;
• Strong regional operational dimension to achieve/ co-ordinate efficient service provision and “mutual assistance” and support;
• Sets down a ‘risk management approach’ to service provision;
• Challenging targets to improve fire safety through reduction of incident levels;
• Differentiating emergency responses on the basis of risk/ threat to life with a primary, secondary and tertiary categorisation;
• Highlights the role of the national level in supporting and overseeing the delivery of effective and value for money services;
• Underpins a collaborative relationship between central and local government, providing for local delivery, management and political accountability for this critical public safety service, while ensuring that national objectives of effective services, consistent approach and value for money are seen to be achieved also.
Summary Information on Fire Services and Fire Safety in Ireland
The points below provide summary information on fire services and fire safety in Ireland.
• There are 37 statutorily designated fire authorities in Ireland, based on the principal local authorities. These provide a range of fire services currently through thirty service delivery units, with an infrastructure of 220 fire stations and some 500 fire appliances.
• Fire services are delivered by 3,400 fire authority employees – 1,200 full-time fire fighters in the main cities and 2,200 retained fire fighters. 200 Senior Fire Officers deliver a range of safety and emergency management services in addition to managing the operational service.
• Local authorities annual current expenditure on fire services is some €260 m and they also provide a range of support services (HR, IT, Maintenance, Payroll etc) for the operation of the fire services.
• Every year some 100,000 999/ 112 calls for assistance from the public for are processed in three regional communications centres.
• Fire services are mobilised typically to 56,000 incidents each year, 35,000 of which are fires.
• The other 21,000 incidents include some 5,000 responses to road traffic accidents, as well as hazardous materials incidents, rescues, special services and false alarms.
• Domestic dwellings account for some 4,500 fires per annum, with “persons reported” in 450 (10%) of these cases.
• 38 persons are reported as having lost their lives due to fire in both 2011 and 2010, giving a figure of 8.5 fatalities per million of population per year. The provisional toll for 2012 is 28 persons killed in fires.
• Fires in chimneys account for more than 5000 fire incidents annually, car fires more than 6,000, rubbish fires (bins and skips) more than 8,000.
• Fires in commercial, industrial/ storage, institutional buildings and place of public assembly account for just over 1000 fires per annum.
• Dublin City Council provides an Emergency Ambulance Service dealing with 78,000 incidents per annum.