Council considers private fire service to cut costs
A COUNCIL desperate to reduce costs is examining the possibility of privatising its fire and rescue services.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has revealed that it wants to negotiate a new deal for providing the service.
Any attempt to place fire and rescue under private control, where a company would operate the services for profit, would be unprecedented in Ireland.
At present, all fire services are run by local councils, with the four areas of Dublin under the control of Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) run by Dublin City Council.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, in south Dublin, issued a public competition tender last month requesting applications from companies to examine its fire and rescue operations.
According to documents seen by the Irish Independent, the successful applicant will draw up a Service Level Agreement to form the basis of council negotiations for running the service.
The move paves the way for the council to open up control of fire and rescue to competition, with companies submitting their proposals to do the work.
It is envisaged that DFB will be just one of the competitors, however, the tender made it clear that it would be "preferable" if DFB continued to provide the service.
DFB costs around €97.8m a year to run and the cost is split between Dublin's four councils. It has a staff of around 1,200.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown's local government fund allocation has collapsed from €41.4m in 2008 to €28.6m this year while income from rates and council charges has also collapsed.
Its tender comes after attempts to implement the recommendations of a 2010 report by England's chief fire and rescue adviser, Ken Knight, were described as "disappointing". That report looked into issues with fire services in Dublin and made 23 recommendations to improve services and reduce costs.
A statement from the council said that the overall goal was to provide fire and rescue services "within a value for money framework".