The provision of a fire service in its area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs, the provision of a premises and the making of such other provisions as it considers necessary or desirable, is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003. My Department supports fire authorities through the setting of general policy, provision of training support and issue of guidance on operational and other related matters and the provision of capital funding.
Earlier in 2013 I published the policy document Keeping Communities safe (KCS), which is intended to keep fire safety and fire services in Ireland in line with international best practice. KCS was developed to ensure that Ireland manages its fire risk effectively and continues the downward trend in the level of fire fatalities recorded annually. The current annual rate of 6 .2 fire deaths per million of population places Ireland among the most fire safe countries. KCS is based on the systems approach which emphasizes the further development and enhancement of fire prevention and fire protection as well as fire service response. KCS places an appropriate emphasis on isolated communities being prioritised for Community Safety programmes to ensure that households in such areas are given advice on fire prevention and have smoke alarms and other appropriate fire protection facilities. These simple measures are regarded as the most effective means of ensuring the safety of persons in the case of fire. Community fire safety initiatives involving the provision of fire prevention advice and smoke alarms, fire blankets and fire extinguishers were developed and provided for off-shore island communities and are maintained and renewed as appropriate by the relevant local authorities.
The provision of fire services by local authorities is based on a risk management approach which involves an analysis of the nature of the fire hazards and the incidence and extent of fires which occur as well as the fire protection measures in place. Having regard to the need to ensure the safety of persons engaged in fire-fighting and the levels of training required, the provision by local authorities of training or equipment for members of the public is currently provided as part of community safety programmes of general application.