The recently published “Keeping Communities Safe” (KCS) , which I have adopted as national policy, sets the future direction of fire services in Ireland. The national standards proposed in KCS are in keeping with international good practice and are crucial to the achievement of a consistent approach to the provision of effective fire services across fire services in Ireland. KCS also indicates a move to a “shared services” structure, involving a reduction in the number of service delivery units from 30 to 21 .
The local authority fire services annual budget of €250 million and the 3,233 fire-fighters who provide the services are currently managed by the 29 Chief Fire Officers . Following implementation of KCS, in a new configuration of 21 service delivery units, there will be 21 Chief Fire Officer positions .
At the most recent count in 2012 , there are 203 senior fire officers (including the 29 Chief Fire Officers) who provide and manage the delivery of fire services from 220 fire stations, using a fleet of some 500 vehicles. Staffing in the fire services is covered by the local government Employment Control Framework for the sector . Firefighter numbers have been protected from the recruitment embargo and have not changed since 2008, while senior officer numbers have decreased from 270 to 203 in the same period. This 25% decrease of officer numbers is in line with overall local authority staffing decreases.