Fire and Rescue Service

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety is responsible for the development of policy and legislation and for monitoring of service delivery for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue ServiceLink to an external website (NIFRS).  This includes implementation of the reform and modernisation agenda emerging from the Bain ReportLink to an external website.  This aspect of the Department’s work is the responsibility of the Public Safety Unit (PSU), which is part of the Department’s Coordination Directorate.
PSU liaises closely with the Department of Communities and Local GovernmentLink to an external website in London (DCLG), which is responsible for fire and rescue service provision in England and Wales. The Unit also works closely with its counterpart in the Scottish Government and also with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local GovernmentLink to an external website and Department of Health and Children in the Republic of Ireland to enhance co-operation and joint working between fire and other services in order to increase public safety in border areas.
An important aspect of public safety is emergency planning, another of the Department’s public safety responsibilities. That is the responsibility of the Public Health Policy Team  in the Health Development Directorate, who also cover Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Health Protection.
Fire Safety and Fire and Rescue Services in Northern Ireland are carried out under the Fire and Rescue Services (NI) Order 2006Link to an external website, which came into effect in 2006.  Funding of the service is by the Department through Grant in Aid.  The Department also commissions a range of reviews and surveys.  This includes independent reviews such as Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Scotland report (PDF 3.2MB) into the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service carried out in 2007.  
There is also  a bi-annual Fire Safety Survey (PDF 170KB) which provides statistical data about public awareness of fire safety issues and fire safety campaigns undertaken by the Fire and Rescue Service.  This is used to inform the Department about the success of those campaigns and also to assist the Fire and Rescue Service in developing and promoting future fire safety awareness campaigns.  
The methodology for financial accountability of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is contained in the Management Statement Financial Management (MSFM) (PDF 699KB) agreed with the Department in November 2005.  The MSFM is currenly under review and a new version should be available on this web site in the autumn of 2009.

Public Safety Unit responsibility includes:

  • Drafting relevant Fire and Rescue Service legislation and any resulting secondary legislation covering matters such as the Firefighters’ Pension Schemes and Fire Safety legislation.
  • Determining the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board’s performance framework in the light of its wider strategic aims and current Public Service Agreement objectives and targets
  • Monitoring of Fire and Rescue Service policy documents and procedures.
  • Agreement of the annual budget allocation for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
  • Accountability of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
  • Monitoring of business plans.
  • Monitoring of service delivery targets.
  • The laying of the annual report and audited accounts of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service before the Northern Ireland Assembly.
  • Arranging independent inspections of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Public Safety Unit deals only with policy, legislation and monitoring in relation to Fire and Rescue Services.

Other aspects of public safety are the responsibility of organisations including:
  • The Environmental Health Department of your local  Borough, City or District or Council.
For example:
  • Garden bonfires and bonfires generally
    Bonfires producing unpleasant smells, fumes or nuisance smoke are a matter for the Environmental Health Department within the relevant local council.  Any fire which is burning out of control and is a risk to life or property should be reported to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service immediately using the 999 Emergency telephone number if necessary.
  • Vermin (rats, mice wasps’ nests etc.)
    Control is a matter for the Environmental Health Department within the relevant local council.
  • Safety matters relating to existing buildings or construction sites
    Are a matter for The Health and Safety Executive and/or the Building Control Department at the relevant local council.
  • Waste and waste disposal
    This includes rubbish bins, litter, waste and garbage behind shops and in entries, waste ground etc. This is a matter for the Environmental Health Department within the relevant local council.
  • Maintenance and repair of Public Sector Housing.
    This is a matter for the Housing Executive.

Some useful web sites associated with fire and safety generally are listed below.
Hexagon

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Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety
Information Office
C5.20
Castle Buildings
Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3SQ

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