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 Act 1981. 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. The five-year programme proposed the construction/ refurbishment of twenty six fire stations. This included sixteen new builds and ten upgrade/ refurbishments.
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 categorisation, the value for money offered by proposals and the totality of requests from fire authorities.
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. While my Department is aware of discussions about possible relocations of some fire stations, my Department has not received any recent requests for funding for fire stations from Dublin City Council. However, under the capital programme, funding has been approved for six new fire appliances for Dublin Fire Brigade at a cost of approximately €1.8 million. A further approval for six vehicles with 4 x 4 capability was also issued to Dublin Fire Brigade in May 2018. An overall appliance fleet replacement proposal, including a request for a turntable ladder costing approximately €800,000, is under review between my Department and Dublin Fire Brigade .
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 individual projects.