Health Minister Robin Swann has commissioned an independent inspection of the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS).
The inspection will be led by HM Chief Inspector of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service Robert Scott.
The Minister said:
“This independent inspection is timely and will help put NIFRS on a firm footing for the future.
“Firefighters and support staff make an immeasurable contribution to public safety in Northern Ireland. Like many public sector organisations, NIFRS has had a challenging period over a number of years, not least due to funding constraints.
“This inspection can help it move forward with confidence, as both an employer and provider of a vital public service.”
Issues to be covered include staffing, resourcing, governance arrangements, organisational culture, staff development, wellbeing, diversity and leadership.
The Minister concluded:
“I am very grateful to Robert Scott, HM Chief Inspector of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service for agreeing to lead this inspection. I also thank the Scottish Government for permitting this inspection to take place.”
The inspection will provide an independent examination of the challenges currently facing NIFRS and the inspection report will be made public. The Board of NIFRS has firmly advocated for this review which is also supported by the Chief Fire & Rescue Officer and his Executive Leadership Team.
Responding to the announcement, Interim Chief Fire & Rescue Officer Andy Hearn, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) said:
“We welcome the commissioning by Minister Swann of the independent inspection of NIFRS led by HM Chief Inspector of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service Robert Scott.
“It provides a timely opportunity to examine the challenges facing NIFRS. Taking stock of our foundations as a vital public service, will help us ensure that they are fit for purpose now and into the future.
“We want to provide an even more efficient and effective fire and rescue service for the people of Northern Ireland, whilst ensuring we support the needs of all of our staff who go above and beyond every day in keeping people safe.
“We thank the Department of Health for the investment in this review. It’s an investment in our future and the future of public safety in Northern Ireland.”