Each local authority’s retained fire service has been analysed in terms of recruitment, retention and the future sustainability of service delivery as part of a review by the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management.
The review entitled ‘Retained Fire Services in Ireland – A Review of Recruitment and Retention and the Future Sustainability of Service Delivery’ followed substantial engagement with retained firefighters, staff representatives, fire service senior management and local authorities, together with in-depth research and analysis of the current model.
The Management Board of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) were tasked with reviewing the delivery and sustainability of the retained fire services in each local authority area, with particular emphasis on the recruitment and retention of staff, by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage in 2021.
Minister Darragh O’Brien is aware of the challenges of recruiting and retraining retained fire personnel faced by some local authorities around the country. This is the reason the review was undertaken to check out the model of ‘retained’ fire services delivery by local authorities. The issue is not unique to Ireland, with similar issues pertaining for the service model of ‘on-call firefighters’ in other EU countries.
The NDFEM team has identified that a significant challenge will be to balance the organisational requirement and the ability to respond, with a requirement to improve working arrangements for individual retained firefighters. The implementation of the recommendations will progress immediately, with a plan to be developed and overseen by the NDFEM Strategic Implementation Group to address the core issues identified and implement the change necessary to ensure the continued delivery of an effective and efficient retained fire service.
There will be a continuation of engagement with all stakeholders throughout the implementation phase, via the established forums. This review is intended to support Ireland’s retained firefighters, improve working structures within the retained fire services, and ultimately to ensure the best service possible for communities that are served so well by the retained fire services across the country.