The provision of fire services in local authority areas, including the establishment and maintenance of fire brigades, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of premises, is a statutory function of the individual fire authorities under the provisions of 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 priority infrastructural projects.
In February 2016, my Department announced a five-year Fire Services Capital Programme with an allocation of €40 million, based on an annual €8 million allocation, to be used for the purchase of fire appliances and specialist equipment, building or upgrading of prioritised Fire Stations, an upgrade of the Communications and Mobilisation system and improvements to Training Centres.
With regard to Ballinamore fire station, correspondence was initially received in August 2007 outlining works required. Further to this, a Capital Appraisal was requested in January 2008 and received by my Department in March 2010. A further report was submitted by Leitrim County Council in August 2015 detailing a remedial works/refurbishment project costing €120,000. This fire station project has been included under the five-year Fire Services Capital Programme and is listed as one of the stations to undergo remedial/upgrade works.
In July 2017, the Council requested approval for additional works to the initial proposal at a total cost of €400,000. My Department requested a detailed cost plan and description of these proposed works. Following the receipt and evaluation of this information, it was decided to approve Leitrim County Council to proceed to tender stage.
I understand that following this approval tender documents were prepared for the appointment of consultants to design the new station, obtain the necessary permissions (planning, fire safety certificate & disability access certificate), prepare construction tender documentation and supervise construction. In December 2017, these tender documents were forwarded to seven practices seeking tenders.
By the closing date of 18 January 2018, four valid tenders were received by Leitrim County Council. These tenders were assessed and further clarification sought/received. A preferred service provider has been identified and a ‘cooling off’ period is now in place with an expiration date of 28 February 2018. Following this, Leitrim County Council will be able to formally appoint a designer for this project. It is planned to submit an application for Part VIII planning approval on or before 9 April 2018 for presentation at the Council meeting of 2 July 2018. It is expected that construction work will commence on the project in Q3 2018.
My Department continues to work with Leitrim County Council in progressing this project. The projects in the capital programme are reassessed on an annual basis and priority may be adjusted to bring forward projects offering best value-for-money and to take account of the state of readiness of projects generally.