Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has raised concern over some of the conclusions presented to the Fire Services National Oversight and Implementation Group (FSNOIG) Retained Division.
The findings form part of a report arising out of an ongoing review of the model of local authority Retained Fire Services delivery.
The report is expected to be completed by the end of the year, by a project team under the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, into the recruitment and retention issues within the Retained Fire Service.
The findings indicate that 74% of Retained Fire Services have difficulty in recruiting fire fighters, while a further 45% have difficulty in retaining fire fighters.
Teachta Brady said:
“As much as it saddens me to say it, these recent findings come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the difficulties faced by the Retained Fire Service throughout the state.
“Just a number of weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the National Retained Fire Fighters Retirement Award Ceremony in Mullingar.
“There I had the opportunity to speak to many fire fighters in relation to the challenges and difficulties which they face within their roles.
“It is painfully clear that there is a major recruitment and retention problem in the Retained Fire Service. This is compounded by the conditions under which the Retained Fire Fighters are forced to operate.
“Being on call 24/7, which means that they must remain within a few short miles of the Fire Station, puts a strain on attempts to achieve a work life balance, particularly for those with families.
“Because of recruitment and retention difficulties, there is more pressure placed of serving fire fighters to make up for the lack of numbers.
“It is telling that it is estimated that 58% of Retained Fire Fighters say that they are likely to leave the service within the next three years. This would devastate an already weakened service.
“The Minister needs to commit to publishing the report following completion at the end of the year.
“Another area of concern I have relates to the failure to collate data centrally in relation to numbers of Retained Fire Stations which were unable to deploy fire engines or crews in response to emergency call-outs, due to staffing levels.
“This is not good enough, and it restricts the ability to develop a full picture of the impact of the failure of the Government to invest in the service.
“The Government needs to take action now. It needs to listen to the concerns of the Retained Fire Fighters. These concerns need to be taken on board.
“The Government has paid lip service to Retained Fire Fighters for too long. Action is needed now.”