Strategic alliance to thwart 'benign neglect'.(Irish Chiefs)

The recent Irish Chief Fire Officers Association annual conference on Managing Risk in a Changing Environment witnessed a clash between the chiefs and government due to the latter's refusal to take forward the association's recommendations on reform. While government implements its own brand of "piecemeal" modernisation, UK and Irish chiefs collaborated to cut to the chase ...

"THE FIRE SERVICE HAS BEEN treated with benign neglect for decades by successive governments," was former Fire Minister Mike O'Brien's infamous quote in FIRE on the immediate aftermath of his departure from office. Not now, no way for the UK Fire and Rescue Service.

In Ireland, the Fire Service has not had the good fortune of experiencing a series of unfortunate events such as the pay dispute clashing with the Iraq conflict, against a background of public sector reform and stern government handling. Nor is it likely. However, it has produced a report--aka Safe As Houses, In The Line of Fire, FSIG's vision--outlining wholesale reform. This was outlined by CFOA Chair Tony Gleeson at last year's conference where he voiced strong criticism of the government. At this year's event, held at the Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell, County Cavan, he explained the process by which the association's report was at first unequivocally welcomed when first presented two years earlier.

The then Minister was to implement a staged development of the main thrust of the report, including the creation of a National Fire and Civil Protection Authority, subject to cabinet approval. Following a cabinet reshuffle--aka previous UK white papers--the plan went dead. However, in February this year the new Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dick Roche, announced a different policy to develop the fire and emergency services. …

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