Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
152. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which he proposes to address the issue of the inadequacy of staffing levels, modern equipment, transport and communications in both the full-time and part-time fire services throughout the country which are funded, directed and accountable to his Department with particular reference to the availability of well a co-ordinated, funded and directed service capable of dealing with all emergencies including those of a terrorist motivated, accidental or emergency nature; if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of the professionals in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21283/06]
153. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which he proposes to fund, upgrade, re-organise and modernise the full-time and part-time fire services throughout the country with a view to ensuring the availability of a well co-ordinated fire fighting service capable of meeting and dealing with all eventualities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21284/06]
154. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which he proposes to develop equip, fund and co-ordinate fire services throughout the Greater Dublin Area with particular reference to current and future needs in Counties Dublin, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21285/06]
The provision of a fire service, including staffing, equipment, transport and communications, is a statutory function of the individual fire authorities and my Department has no direct role in this matter. My Department supports the local fire authorities through the setting of general policy, the provision of capital funding, the issue of guidance to fire authorities in relation to fire prevention and operational matters and other such initiatives. In particular, the Fire Services Change Programme, which I announced in 2005, is taking forward a range of initiatives to improve the quality of the service, including through a strengthened focus on community fire safety.
Over the past 25 years, almost €240 million has been provided to local fire authorities under the fire services capital programme for the provision of new and refurbished fire stations and new regional communications centres and the purchase of fire appliances and other equipment, including communications equipment. At this stage, over two-thirds of our fire stations, including almost all of the busiest stations, have been replaced. We have a modern fleet of front-line fire appliances, and a modern emergency response communications system is in place. In the current year, almost €20 million has been allocated to the Fire Services capital programme. This allocation will be used to further modernise and update the resources available to the fire authorities.
In addition, since 2001, my Department has provided almost €4.2 billion in general purpose grants to assist local authorities in carrying out their statutory functions, including the provision of fire services.
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