2015 Chief Fire Officers Association Conference

Date Published : May 12th, 2015    Published By : admin

CFOA 2015 Pic: Declan Keogh

The Chief Fire Officers two day conference was held in Tullamore County Offaly. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Emerging Trends, and the challenges to the Fire Service’.  In its 58th year running, this is Offaly County Council’s second time to host the event. The first occasion was in 1998 under the then Offaly Fire Chief and Conference Secretary Derry O’ Ceilleachair. Seventeen years later Derry’s son Eoin brings the conference back to County Offaly.


Report By: Declan Keogh
Delegates heard from twelve keynote speakers over the two days, on various topics such as: The Local Government Change Programme, Major Emergency Management in Ireland, Crowd Safety at Large Outdoor events, Event Licensing in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Health and Safety, Quality Assurance systems and also Developments in Copenhagen, the Danish Fire Service, and the Current and Future Trends for Fire & Rescue response in Spain. There were also three ‘Tech Talks’ from different companies.

CFOA Chairman Pat Fleming: ‘More funding required’

Article Pic_CFO Pat Fleming

In his opening address, Chairman of the Chief Fire Officers Association, Pat Fleming referred to the progress made by the fire service throughout Ireland over the past year. He also called on the Government to increase the level of funding being made available to the Local Authorities.

He said’ “Current expenditure by Local Authorities on fire and rescue services is €267m per annum. Proper station facilities are essential for maintaining the delivery of a fire service. Fire appliances are the work horses of the services and it is regrettable that there has been no fleet capital funding provided in recent years.”


Speaking to Emergency Times at the conference, the National Director for Fire and Emergency Management Sean Hogan says that fire service expenditure has been protected, and his department provides capital support at national level through a grant system. “Generally, our infrastructure is good but there are more projects to be announced.

We have a strong fleet of appliances and specialists equipment so far and we are also expecting to announce procurement for new appliances. Fire Services have had good expenditure, obviously it fell over the austerity years, but the fire service expenditure has been protected. My department has a reasonable level of expenditure, we have €8m to spend again this year that will see our priority jobs through again this year”.

As CFOA Conference Secretary, Offaly’s Chief Fire Officer Eoin O’ Ceilleachair and Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officers Nick Smith, Clive Duke and Denis Canty have all being working hard over the past number of months in preparation for this year’s event. Eoin O’ Ceilleachair spoke to EmergencyTimes.com and said ‘further investment is needed so as to maintain the current standards that exist in the fire service’.

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"Up to three to four years ago, there was a large investment within the fire service n terms of the capital programme and the fleet and equipment. We are currently at a high level in terms of our fleet and in order to keep this at this level, and at a good operational level, further investment is needed so as to maintain the current standards that exist in the fire service”.

ACFO Denis Keeley: ‘Never let good enough be good enough’
Dublin Fire Brigade’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Denis Keeley presented to delegates on Major Emergency Management in Ireland. He said ‘not everyone is cut out for major emergencies. “Emergency Management is more than the ability to get technical knowledge and have an understanding of information management. One of the key aspects in dealing with inter-agency work is the ability to get on with people and to communicate. If you have the wrong person in the wrong job, when you have someone in that position, they can do a lot of damage. Never let good enough be good enough, always strive for the highest standards possible”.


Dublin Fire Brigade ACFO Denis Keeley. Photo: Declan Keogh 

ACFO Keeley believes one of the areas which are extremely important for Major Emergency management in the future and for Local Authority Fire Services is the area of partnerships, building on partnerships both internally and externally. “Improving value and expanding the role of MEM to other aspects of risk management and crisis management is extremely important. Two Crisis Management workshops delivered to Local Authority senior management in the eastern region have been well received. It shows senior management aspects of the emergency management and the framework, but it primarily focuses on crises management” he said.


Internal view of Carlow On-Site Co-ordination Inflatable tent. Photo: Declan Keogh


Up to 50 exhibitors from the fire trade and industry from Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK and from across Europe attended the conference, showcasing their product or business to delegates. The internal and external exhibition areas consist of manufacturers and providers of the various fire fighting equipment, PPE, engineers and builders of fire appliances and vehicles, Communications and Technology, Health and Safety, Academics and training plus many more.

Training and Education are two key components for the Fire Service, and in County Carlow, both Carlow Fire & Rescue Service and the Institute of Technology Carlow provide that.  Carlow Fire and Rescue Service has constantly developed and improved its ability to deliver the highest possible standard of Breathing Apparatus and Compartment Fire Behavior Training available from the county’s Training and Development Centre in Hacketstown.

Photo: L-R: Rtd Offaly ACFO Tony Colville, Carlow CFO Gerard W. Guerin, Administrator Mary O'Neill & SACFO Mick Gahan,  Carlow Fire & Rescue Service. Photo: Declan Keogh

What started out as a local Breathing Apparatus training facility for Carlow, other brigades began to make use of it and from there, the centre developed further. Michael Gahan, Assistant Chief Fire Officer with Carlow County Fire and Rescue Service said “We got funding from the department in relation to expanding the centre. We just recently finished the construction of three-storey detached residents, we have an industrial type unit where we light real fires and we have a number of compartment fire behavior training units also”.

The various types of courses provided at the Hacketstown Training and Development Centre are training for Breathing Apparatus, Command for Fire Behaviour, Road Traffic Collisions, Heavy Rescue Vehicle and recruit fire-fighters. Emergency Times will have a further feature on the Hacketstown Training and Development centre at the end of this month.

Hacketstown Trainign Ctr 640

Graphic Design: Courtesy Dermot Scully

The Institute of Technology in Carlow provides a programme for Bachelors of Business in Emergency Services. The programme is aimed at fire and ambulance personnel, members of the Defence Forces and safety officers.

Programme Coordinator at Institute of Technology Carlow is Denis O’ Brien. He explains the course and what students can achieve. “The programme is delivered by industry experts such as ex Chief Fire Officers, exerts in the area of CISM, Emergency Services and Business and Management modules. Students get a level 8 honors degree after four years in Emergency Business Management which allows them to progress onto Level 9 Masters or to further their own career”.

IT Carlow Emergency Services programme

Marie Esmonde, Programme Administrator and Denis O' Brien, Programme Coordinator, IT Carlow. Photo: Declan Keogh

Check out our Video Report on the 2015 CFOA Conference

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