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 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/refurbishment projects.
A new fire station at Crossmolina is provided for in this Capital Programme. Mayo County Council has indicated that Crossmolina is their number one fire station priority. The Council submitted an outline design and cost plan for a new station to my Department in December 2019. The Council completed a tender process in August 2020, and submitted the tender report and cost plan to my Department two weeks ago. This is currently under review and my Department will continue to work with Mayo County Council to progress this project.
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.
A new capital programme for the period 2021-2025 is currently being finalised. Following extensive engagement with fire authorities a number of proposals for station works etc. have been received. The proposals will be evaluated and prioritised on the basis of the:
- Area Risk Categorisation of the fire station (population, fire risks, etc.)
- Established Health and Safety needs and
- State of development of the project (is site acquired, etc.?)
In recognition of the current economic situation faced by the State as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the speed and extent to which proposed expenditure can stimulate local economies will also be a key consideration in the first few years of the new programme.
I hope to be in a position to make an announcement regarding this new programme in the near future, and my Department will continue to work with Mayo County Council to progress the Crossmolina fire station project.