The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service is set to begin a Section 75 public consultation on how best to manage firefighter resources given the changing risk profile of Northern Ireland.
The consultation follows a risk assessment, identifying the risk levels in all 67 station areas over a 5 year period. This assessment has clearly identified that in 11 station areas the risk levels and resources are not effectively matched.
Under the proposed new changes NIFRS has identified 4 station areas – Enniskillen, Downpatrick, Dungannon and Strabane – which would benefit from additional Wholetime firefighters whilst at the same time maintaining the Retained cover 24/7. The Wholetime firefighters would provide enhanced prevention, protection and emergency response from Monday – Friday, 0800 -1800.
Coleraine, Carrickfergus, Antrim, Portadown, Armagh, Newtownards and Omagh currently have Wholetime firefighters based in the station 7 days a week, 0730 – 1930 plus Retained firefighters providing cover 24 hours a day. Under the new proposal these stations would maintain the Retained cover 24/7 whilst Wholetime firefighters would be based on station Monday – Friday 0800 – 1800.
The availability or number of fire appliances will not be impacted by these proposed changes.
ACFO Gary Thompson said, “We have clearly identified a change in the risk profile of Northern Ireland and we need to adapt and remain flexible to the changing needs we face.
If we were to introduce these new proposals we could redeploy up to 28 Wholetime posts to the identified stations to maximise the use of existing resources. We have a duty to ensure that we provide the best possible fire and rescue service to the people of Northern Ireland.
“We are confident that this proposal would enable us to make the most effective and efficient use of our operational resources aligned to the risk profile of Northern Ireland.
“These proposed changes are subject to Section 75 consultation and review. If accepted they will be introduced through a phased rollout over a 1-2 year period.”
Consultation will run for a 12 week period concluding on Monday 7th March and documents can be accessed on NIFRS websitehttp://www.nifrs.org/consultation/ or hard copies are available by contacting NIFRS’s Equality & Inclusion Unit, on 028 9266 4221 Ext 2301. As part of the consultation process, NIFRS will be engaging with staff, representative bodies and key stakeholders. NIFRS welcomes all consultation response