Dublin fire services to remain united

Dún Laoghaire council seeks cost savings

A fire at Sandyford Road, Ranelagh, Dublin recently. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

A fire at Sandyford Road, Ranelagh, Dublin recently. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 06:00

FIONA GARTLAND

The fire and rescue service for Dublin’s four local authorities will continue to be operated by Dublin Fire Brigade alone, but cost savings will be sought with a possible increased use of part-time services, councillors in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown have been told.

Concerns that emergency services in Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown might be separated from the rest of Dublin and privatised were allayed by county manager Owen Keegan in a report issued to councillors and due to be discussed at a council meeting today.

Mr Keegan said while the size of the local authority’s population would support a separate fire and rescue service, Government policy strongly supported the continuation of the shared fire service in Dublin. But he said there was potential for increased use of part-time fire services.

Standing down appliances
“This might involve standing down full-time appliances during the night when there is low demand and using retained [part-time] services to supplement the remaining permanent appliances,” he said.

A recently launched Government policy on fire services, Keeping Communities Safe , would facilitate a reduction in manning levels by one person per appliance, he said.

Mr Keegan also said the payment agreement between the four local authorities was “unfair” to Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown and he would seek to renegotiate it.

Fire and rescue services for all four local authority areas are expected to cost ¤93.4 million net this year. The cost includes ambulance services provided by the brigade in parts of Dublin city and county under a separate agreement with the Health Service Executive. The bulk of ambulances working in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown are provided directly by the HSE.

As part of an agreement between the four local authorities, Dublin City Council will pay ¤44.8 million this year; Fingal County Council will pay ¤17.8 million; South Dublin County Council will pay ¤17.3 million; and Dún-Laoghaire Rathdown will pay ¤13.6 million.

Employment
The brigade employs 934 people in 12 full-time and two part-time fire stations across the four authorities.

Just over 100 people work in the two Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown stations, in Dún Laoghaire and Rathfarnham.

The two stations had the lowest number of fires of the 12 full-time stations, with 36 and 29 per 1,000 population respectively, between 2006 and 2008. Tara Street had the highest, at 134.

Mr Keegan’s report said the three county councils in Dublin had been seeking reform of the fire and rescue services since 2009. And while some progress had been made, overall reform had been “disappointing”.

He will seek support from councillors at today’s meeting for a strategy to pursue the renegotiation of the agreement between the councils

.