The provision of a fire service in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of fire station premises, is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under the Fire Services Acts, 1981 and 2003. My Department supports the fire authorities through setting general policy, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding for equipment and priority infrastructural projects.
In December 2020, I announced a new Fire Services Capital Programme for the period 2021-2025, with a funding allocation of €61m. Following extensive engagement with fire authorities, a number of proposals for station works etc. were received. The proposals were evaluated and prioritised on the basis of the:
- Area Risk Categorisation of the fire station (population, fire risks, etc.);
- established Health and Safety needs;
- state of development of the project (is site acquired?, etc.); and
- value for money offered by the proposal.
This new Programme will see six new fire stations built, continued support for the construction of a further 12 new fire stations, nine fire station refurbishments as well as the allocation of 35 new fire engines. In order to maximise the available Capital Programme funding, my Department re-assesses the status of projects in the Programme on an annual basis, and some flexibility is normally available to advance projects that are ready and that offer best value-for-money taking account of the state of readiness of projects more generally.
Project consideration stages in my Department include submission of preliminary and detailed appraisals; submission of design brief; selection of site; application for approval in principle; appointment of design consultants; submission of a preliminary design; planning application; submission of preliminary cost plan, detailed design and cost plans; and tender process and construction stages - each step subject to approval from my Department.
Each fire authority presents my Department with its requests and the case for funding for prioritised capital requirements. Continued investment in the fire appliance fleet has been identified as a key national priority. All requests for funding from my Department’s Fire Services Capital Programme for any fire appliances, equipment or fire station projects are evaluated with regard to local authorities’ priorities, the relevant area risk categorization, the value for money offered by proposals and the totality of requests from fire authorities.
Dublin City Council provides fire prevention and fire and rescue services for the four Dublin local authorities: Dublin City, South Dublin, Fingal and Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Councils. The management of buildings, resources, equipment and fire appliances is a matter for the City Council based on their assessment of local needs and requirements.
The greater Dublin area is served by an infrastructure of well-placed fire stations which were put in place in the 1980s and 1990s, supported by funding from my Department. These enable a rapid response to emergency calls for fire service assistance in the four Dublin local authorities who fund the operation of Dublin Fire Brigade.
My Department works with fire services in Dublin in relation to their priority projects. In March 2021, Dublin City Council submitted to my Department a Strategic Assessment Report regarding a proposed new fire station in Dublin. The Council is developing this proposal and my Department will continue to liaise with the Council on this matter.