News & Media

Serious staffing shortages in Dublin Fire Brigade must set off alarm bells for Government

23 July 2021

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht

Labour Party Senator Marie Sherlock has said that it is ‘alarming’ that ongoing recruitment failures which have led to severe staff shortages in the Dublin Fire Brigade.  

Speaking this morning, Sherlock said:

"For the past two weeks, Dublin Fire Brigade has been operating with up to five fire engines not available for deployment should their need arise. This is an entirely predictable but deeply alarming situation. There has been a failure to adequately respond to the unprecedented level of retirements this year and a crazy situation has emerged where Dublin Fire Brigade has taken on less recruits in 2021 than their usual annual intake. All of this is compounded by a long running failure to meeting minimum staffing requirements agreed in 2015.

“Our city has been fortunate that we have not had major incident since the Metro Hotel in Ballymun in 2018 but it is simply not acceptable that our fire services go out every day hoping that such will not happen again. Dublin’s fire service and Dublin’s families and communities deserve more than to have this level of uncertainty hanging over them.

“Despite an agreement being reached in 2015 for a minimum staffing level of 965, I understand this level has never been met. We need answers from Dublin city council management as to why this is the case along with why they chose to recruit only 36 this year out of a panel of 120 when 48 are typically taken on per annum. Fire service training typically takes eight months and recruitment only takes place once a year. We need to ensure that the scale of the recruits is increased, that training programmes are run back to back and not just once a year and we need to put in place proper workforce planning. It beggars belief that with an estimated 40-50 retirements out of Dublin Fire Brigade this year, far above the usual 20-25 retirements per annum, that so few would be recruited. 

“Unfortunately, Dublin Fire Brigade is not even able to run to stand still - it is losing more members that it can recruit. This is happening while Dublin’s population expands across all four local authorities that the Dublin fire brigade service and there are additional ambulances planned for the city. Changes to the funding model are also needed so that Dublin fire brigade can be placed on a sustainable footing befitting such an essential public service. 

“The workers of Dublin fire brigade and communities across the city have been waiting too long for proper resourcing. These latest revelations must be a wake-up call for the government and for the local authorities, who I hope will recognise the urgency of overcoming these staffing shortages before a major emergency."