Cork City Council Fire and Building Control Dept report published

22/06/2022

A review, by Crowe's consulting team, of Cork City Fire and Building Control Department, which includes Cork City Fire Brigade, has concluded that newer building types and construction methods, the city’s projected population growth and an already increased city population require a modernisation of all services to ensure they continue to provide an effective and efficient fire service to residents and business in the future. 

In its conclusions, it stated that demands on fire services had changed and would continue to change. It underlined a continued reduction in ‘high demand’ incidents (eg house fires) in recent years but warned of risks to crew safety from ‘bigger scale’ incidents such as fire in more modern, taller buildings. It also warned that the impacts of climate change eg extremes of weather will place new demands on services. 

In the strategic review conducted by our consulting team, who have significant experience in fire service operations and wider public sector management, the strong commitment and pride shown in all aspects of the Department’s work was commended and described as “a solid foundation for the future development of Fire and Building Control services in Cork”.

The review involved workshops and engagement sessions with staff across Cork City Fire and Building Control Department, an analysis of current strategy and international comparative research.

Within this context, the review focused on areas where there was a need for improvement and where the changing demands for the service must be considered:

The review made 20 recommendations under three main themes.

  1. Strategy and Planning
  2. Organisation and People
  3. Operations and Processes

Key issues emerging from the review include:

  • An overarching need for modernisation and futureproofing across fire services and building control
  • A need for a new strategic vision for the Department which strikes an effective balance between operational and fire prevention services. This vision must reflect international best practice thinking in community safety and the built environment, the city’s changing fire risk profile and the subsequent demands that makes on all divisions of the department
  • A need for a full and comprehensive review of standards of fire cover in line with the national ‘Keeping Communities Safe’ document
  • A need for a strategic review of staffing arrangements, shift patterns and work routines and staff training along with measures to enhance workforce diversity including family friendly and flexible staffing arrangements 
  • Need for close analysis of the infrastructure employed by the Department, including operational locations/buildings, training facilities, equipment, and technology

Chief Executive, Ann Doherty said: “Working with staff and communities to address the key issues and recommendations delivered in this review is vital to ensure that into the future, residents and businesses continue to have a resilient, effective and efficient fire service as the city grows and changes”.

Community, Culture and Placemaking Director of Services, Adrienne Rogers said: “The Strategic Review provides a baseline upon which we will build the future development of the Fire Services and Building Control to ensure our citizens and our cities safety.   We have a great opportunity to work collaboratively across the whole organisation to support the delivery of a service fit for the future growth and development of our city”.

Chief Fire Officer, John Ryan said: “The demands of society are rapidly changing. This review is timely and sets out a pathway for the development of the Fire and Building Control Department to ensure that it is best positioned in the future to continue to effectively serve the people of Cork”.

“Working with all our stakeholders, our objective is to develop a comprehensive balanced strategy for prevention, protection, and response in relation to the built environment and the enhancement of a culture of compliance in the community which will be informed by national guidance and statutory legislation,” he said.

Shane McQuillan, Partner with Crowe Ireland, said “This review has shown that the services provided by Cork City Fire and Building Control Department are fundamentally sound, with a strong sense of professionalism evident across all aspects of the Department. In changing times, with new demands and pressures, this is an ideal opportunity to future-proof Cork’s fire and building control functions and commence a process of strengthening these vital services.” 

It is envisaged that the implementation of the change process will take place over a 36-month period. The first stage of the plan which is the design phase will commence in quarter 4 of 2022 and the implementation phase is to start next year.

Background
In 2020, following the boundary extension and re-structuring of the fire services to incorporate the Building Control function, it was decided that a full strategic review of the Fire and Building Control Department would be timely to ensure it was fit for purpose and ready to address the increasing demands and complexities that continued population growth will bring. 

The primary objective of the review was to provide Cork City Council with a long-term strategy for the delivery of Fire and Building Control services to its citizens, businesses and stakeholders. 

Crowe’s consulting department has extensive experience helping and advising clients in Ireland across diverse sectors, from multinational organisations and major public bodies to local businesses and not-for-profit entities.

Cork City Council Fire and Building Control Dept report cover
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Contact us:

Shane McQuillan, Partner, Consulting - Crowe Ireland
Shane McQuillan
Partner, Consulting
Alan Davidson - Crowe Ireland
Alan Davidson
Associate Director, Internal Audit & Consulting