The CFOA also reported today that the number of fire fatalities recorded nationally during the first four months of 2012 is significantly lower than the corresponding period during the previous five years. 7 fire-related deaths have been recorded so far this year compared to 17 during the same period in 2011 (38 in total), 18 in 2010 (38 in total), 14 in 2009 (42 in total), 20 in 2008 (35 in total), and 24 in 2007 (41 in total).
The CFOA said that a considerable amount of work is being carried by Fire and Rescue Service units in Ireland’s 34 local authority areas to further enhance fire and road safety awareness, and that the effectiveness of the schemes were reflected in the relevant figures for the five-year period.
The CFOA added, however, that its survey of over 20 County and Fire Rescue Service units indicated that the number of malicious false alarm call-outs remained “unacceptably high”, accounting for 3% of the estimated 50,000 call outs around the country during 2011.
Today’s annual CFOA conference was officially opened by Mr. Phil Hogan T.D., Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, who spoke about the interaction between the Fire Service and Community and Voluntary sectors in improving public safety.
Minister Hogan explained: “We have had excellent collaboration with the Community and Voluntary sectors in the recent severe weather incidents. I firmly believe that it is through working with communities themselves, not only by responding when a fire or emergency happens, that we can improve public safety. This includes guiding and assisting our communities in fire prevention and encouraging them in measures such as installing smoke alarms to protect themselves and particularly vulnerable neighbours to remain safe from fire in their homes and businesses.”
Minister Hogan also referred to the “Keeping Communities Safe” and “CAMP” consultation documents that will be used by Government to finalise national policy in relation to the future role of the Fire Service later this summer. The documents have been produced by National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management, under the auspices of the Department of the Environment.
“Across all services we need to re-appraise our service delivery structures to ensure we have the best structures for effective delivery,” he said. “Public services, such as the fire services, are evaluated by reference to their contribution to society, efficiency and value-for-money. In this context we must be able to demonstrate value-for-money in the €260 million of revenue which local authorities spend on their fire services every year.”
Minister Hogan told Conference delegates: “Bringing about the agreed changes will fall to yourselves in your role as service leaders and managers. However, you have good experience of collaborative implementation of previous initiatives which bodes well for the future of the fire service. I acknowledge that the recommendations of Keeping Communities Safe impact directly on you, Chief Fire Officers, in that it recommends shared service arrangements among a number of fire authorities.”
Addressing the Conference, Seamus Murphy, CFOA Chairperson and Mayo County Fire Officer commented: “The Chief Fire Officers Association is willing to continue to work with the National Directorate and the City and County Managers Association to explore what structures and arrangements are best suited to provide a Fire Service for the future. It is imperative that the Government works toward a Fire Service that provides the current range of services in an effective and efficient manner and is acceptable and responsive to local communities.”
“Any proposed changes should be well researched and based on sound economics. It would be unacceptable to Fire Officers and the communities they serve if any newly introduced structures and arrangements were less efficient and less responsive than the current model,” stated Mr. Murphy.
‘New Horizons for the Fire and Rescue Service of the Future’ is the theme of this year’s two-day CFOA conference, being held in Dundalk's Ballymascanlon House Hotel. Topics being discussed include current Irish and UK fire service developments, regionalism of the fire service, the provision of combined fire and ambulance service, an effective building control system, operational risk taking, and the use of computer fire models.
The conference is being addressed by Chief Fire Officers from Ireland, the UK, Holland, Finland and Luxembourg and by Sean Hogan (Director, National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management) Louise Craig (Chief Executive Officer, Institution of Fire Engineers), Dr. Guillermo Rein (Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh) and other speakers.
The annual showcase event for Ireland’s Fire and Emergency Services sector also features a Fire Industry and Technology Exhibition, which enables representatives from the manufacturing and trade sector involved in supplying emergency products to meet, network and exchange information with representatives and colleagues from the private and public sector.
The CFOA comprises the Chief Fire Officers of all Local Authorities in Ireland. The Association is also a member of the Federation of European Fire officers Associations and attends their twice yearly meetings. For more visit www.cfoa.net.