Fire service management leaner in Republic than in Northern Ireland

Wednesday 10th April 2013

The union that represents senior fire officers in the Republic of Ireland has hit back at claims that the service is ‘top-heavy’ compared to the North. IMPACT says the fire and rescue service in the North employs 96 senior officers with a support staff of over 200 to serve a population of 1.8 million. In the Republic, which has a population of 4.7 million, the figures are 202 senior officers with around 100 support staff.

IMPACT national secretary Eamonn Donnelly said: “The complement of senior and support staff that delivers the fire service in the North is much greater, on a pro-rata basis, than the number delivering the service in the Republic.”

The statement came in response to statements by a small fire fighters’ organisation, which is calling for job losses among senior fire officers and support staff in the Republic.

IMPACT has issued the following statement:

Statement by the IMPACT Union representing Senior Fire Officers, 10th April 2013

It has been alleged that the fire service in Ireland is managed by upwards of 30 chief fire officers, 395 assistant chief fire officers and 700 support staff, while the Northern Ireland Fire Service is managed by one chief fire officer and two assistant chief fire officers. The following are the actual figures:

  1. The fire service in Ireland is delivered by local authorities and is managed by chief fire officers who are equivalent to senior engineers in the local authority system.
  2. In the Republic, there are currently:
    • 29 chief fire officers, or acting chief fire officers (‘it has been proposed to reduce this to 21 by 2015)
    • A total of 173 senior assistant chief fire officers, assistant chief fire officers, assistant fire officers, second officers and third officers
    • Approximately 100 non-uniformed support staff.
  3. In Northern Ireland, fire and rescue services are not provided by local authorities but operate as a single, regional authority. This service has national, regional and local tiers, in contrast to the single-tiered Irish fire service.
  4. The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is headed by a chief executive and a chief fire officer who are supported by two assistant chief fire officers and three directors. It is regionalised into four areas headed by area commanders, which are in turn subdivided into 14 districts, headed by district commanders. Each area also employs group commanders in charge of specialist functions. The total number of these senior officers is 96 with a support staff of 208.
  5. The complement of senior and support staff, which delivers the fire service in the North is much greater, on a pro-rata basis, than the number delivering the service in the Republic.
  6. It should also be noted that fire officers in the Republic carry out a wide range of functions (including some functions not carried out by their Northern counterparts). The range of functions include fire fighting operations, fire prevention work, including community fire safety; running the building control and dangerous buildings service; leading major emergency management within the local government system and in the inter-agency regional structures; licensing of petrol stations and bulk petrol storage depots; running mobilisation and communication centres as well as training centres on a regional basis; liaising with and in some cases running the civil defence service; and making input to national policy development and delivery.