The provision of fire services is a statutory function of fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003. In the case of Dublin, the City Council provides fire services on behalf of the other three Dublin local authorities also.
My Department supports fire authorities mainly through setting national policy and co-ordinating its implementation; providing capital funding for fire appliances, emergency equipment and the construction and upgrading of fire stations; centralised training programmes and co-ordination of the development of guidance on operational and other fire service related matters.
In relation to fire service response, the management of resources, equipment and the number and type of fire appliances is a matter for each of the fire authorities based on their assessment of local needs and requirements. Continued investment in the national fleet is one of the key priorities for my Department's Fire Services Capital Programme. Under the capital programmes since 2008, my Department has funded nine ‘Class B’ appliances and two turntable ladders for Dublin. My Department continues to work closely with fire services in Dublin in relation to further priority projects.
Fire safety issues are kept under review by the Management Board of my Department's National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM).
In terms of buildings, the primary statutory responsibility for ensuring the safety of persons using any building rests with the persons having control of those buildings. The design and construction of buildings in the first instance, including in-built fire safety features such as building layout, means of escape and fire resistance are critical for protecting persons from fire. Safety features, such as fire detection and alarm systems, support safe evacuation of occupants and the containment of fires. The appropriate fire safety measures in any building are based on the scale, density and height of the building and are set out in national Building Regulations and associated Technical Guidance and Codes of Practice.
The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) in my Department published a Report in 2016 titled “Local Delivery – National Consistency”, which includes information on the Area Risk Categorisation process and the fire services provided in Dublin. Fire service response to any particular incident or category of incidents is determined by the Chief Fire Officer, taking account of national policy and guidance. A National Incident Command System was developed by the NDFEM in 2009 and was introduced nationwide with appropriate training and support materials. The Incident Commander decides on the appropriate course of action to be taken in any given situation, taking into consideration the balance of needs, risk and resources, with particular regard to health, safety and welfare of fire-fighters.
In relation to fighting fires in high-rise buildings, my Department issued guidance entitled "Fighting Fires in High-Rise Buildings" in April 2011. This was part of a suite of 47 Standard Operational Guidance (SOG) documents developed between 2010 and 2012 by fire service personnel and issued by the NDFEM. A copy of the SOG concerned, SOG 3.02, is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/Community/FireandEmergencyServices/FileDownLoad%2C33367%2Cen.pdf.
There has been a steady decline in the number of fire incidents and the number of fatalities resulting from fires in Ireland over the past decade. Using the three-year averaged annual fire death rate per million of population metric, Ireland is among the countries where fire fatalities are seen to have been reduced to under 6 fire deaths per million of population. Work must continue in order to avoid the tragedy of fatalities from fire, the vast majority of which occur in the home. However, the positive impact of better fire safety design in buildings, effective fire safety management by those with statutory responsibility in large and complex buildings and improvements in community fire safety strategies, as well as fire services response, all contribute to a enhanced fire safety. These important matters are kept under constant review at local and national level.