The Irish Chief Fire Officers Association were pleased to announce a 14 per cent reduction in the number of recorded fire-related deaths and emergency call-outs during the last 5 years at their annual conference in Dundalk today [9 May].

Figures released by the Irish CFOA showed that on average the number of fire-related call outs dropped by nearly a fifth while the number of road traffic accidents attended by Fire Services throughout Ireland decreased by almost a quarter between 2007 and 2011.

The CFOA also reported today that the number of fire fatalities recorded nationally during the first four months of 2012 is significantly lower than the corresponding period during the previous five years.

However, the report also showed that the number of malicious false alarm call-outs accounted for 3% of the estimated 50,000 call outs around the country during 2011, a level CFOA described as "unacceptably high". 

The conference was officially opened by Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan who spoke about the interaction between the Fire Service and Community and Voluntary sectors in improving public safety.

"We have had excellent collaboration with the Community and Voluntary sectors in the recent severe weather incidents, I firmly believe that it is through working with communities themselves, not only by responding when a fire or emergency happens, that we can improve public safety," he said.

Minister Hogan also referred to the "Keeping Communities Safe" and "CAMP" consultation documents that will be used by Government to finalise national policy in relation to the future role of the Fire Service later this summer and added: "Across all services we need to re-appraise our service delivery structures to ensure we have the best structures for effective delivery.

"Public services, such as the fire services, are evaluated by reference to their contribution to society, efficiency and value-for-money.  In this context we must be able to demonstrate value-for-money in the €260 million of revenue which local authorities spend on their fire services every year.

"Bringing about the agreed changes will fall to yourselves in your role as service leaders and managers. However, you have good experience of collaborative implementation of previous initiatives which bodes well for the future of the fire service. I acknowledge that the recommendations of Keeping Communities Safe impact directly on you, Chief Fire Officers, in that it recommends shared service arrangements among a number of fire authorities."

Following Mr Hogan's address, Seamus Murphy, CFOA Chairperson and Mayo County Fire Officer got into the key theme of the conference, 'New Horizons' and discussed the importance of the Service working collaboratively to continue to provide the current range of services despite government cuts.

The conference will also see addresses by Chief Fire Officers from Ireland, the UK, Holland, Finland and Luxembourg and by Sean Hogan (Director, National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management) Louise Craig (Chief Executive Officer, Institution of Fire Engineers), Dr. Guillermo Rein (Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh) later today - for more information and to see the programme in full visit www.dunphypr.com/?p=7778.

Posted 09/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com