Fire and Rescue Service

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) is responsible for the development of Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue pensions' policy and legislation and for monitoring of service delivery for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue ServiceLink to an external website (NIFRS). Public Safety Unit (PSU) is part of the Department’s Corporate Services Directorate.
As necessary, PSU liaises 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.  
Fire and Rescue Services in Northern Ireland and Fire Safety are carried out under the Fire and Rescue Services (NI) Order 2006Link to an external website, and The Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011.  Funding of this service is provided by the Department through Grant in Aid.
The methodology for financial accountability of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is contained in the Management Statement Financial Management (MSFM) (PDF 1.49MB) agreed with the Department in June 2011.  The MSFM is currently under review and a new version should be available on this web site in 2015.

Public Safety Unit responsibilities include:

Advising the DHSSPS Minister on:
  • Objectives and targets for NIFRS in the light of the Department's strategic aims and current Public Service Agreement objectives and targets;
  • Appropriate budget for NIFRS in the light of the Department's overall public expenditure priorities and advice from the Department's Finance Directorate;
  • Monitoring and reporting on the NIFRS strategic objectives to ensure it is delivering value for money.
In support of the Departmental Accounting Officer, PSU will:
  • Monitor NIFRS' activities on a continuing basis through an adequate and timely flow of information on performance, budgeting, control and risk management, including the NIFRS' Governance Statement;
  • Address in a timely manner any significant problems arising from NIFRS, whether financial or otherwise, making such interventions in the affairs of NIFRS as the Department judges necessary to address such problems;
  • Periodically carry out a risk assessment of NIFRS' activities to inform the Department's oversight of NIFRS; strengthen these arrangements if necessary; and amend the Management Statement and/or Financial Memorandum accordingly.  The risk assessment will take into account the nature of NIFRS' activities; the public monies at stake; its corporate governance arrangements; its financial performance; internal and external auditors' reports; and any other relevant matters.
  • Inform NIFRS of relevant Government policy in a timely manner; if necessary, advise on the interpretation of that policy and issue specific guidance to NIFRS as necessary.
  • Bring concerns about the activities of NIFRS to the attention of the Departmental Board and require explanations and assurances from the NIFRS that appropriate action to address those concerns has been taken; and
  • Develop firefighters pension legislation.

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