Dáil Éireann - Volume 537 - 30 May, 2001

Written Answers. - Fire Service.

57. Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the serious concerns expressed by the chairman of the Chief Fire Officers' Association that staff shortages in the fire service would lead to a major loss of life; the steps being taken to deal with these staff shortages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15954/01]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey): I am aware that there are some recruitment and staff retention difficulties in parts of the fire service which militate against a full regime of fire prevention inspections. I arranged via the Fire Services Council to develop and run three special fire prevention courses for operational officers. These have been held in April-May and 60 officers are now available to fire authorities to deploy in the fire safety area. This further integration of operational and prevention activity is a welcome development. I have encouraged fire authorities to use the available resources in their fire safety activities and I am satisfied that they will do so.

The issue of recruitment will also be considered as part of the wide-ranging strategic review of fire safety and fire services which I announced in January. Proposals from consultants to carry out the review are currently being evaluated. I expect to have the consultants in place by early June and the review finalised in the autumn. I will be looking to the review report to further inform my thinking and policies on this issue.