The Chief Fire Officer’s Association (CFAO) is the professional body of Chief Fire Officer’s (CFO) in Ireland.
The CFOA Annual Conference, now in its 61st year, was held in the Knockranny House Hotel, Westport Co. Mayo.
Speakers from Ireland, England, Scotland, the Czech Republic, Austria and America gathered together over the space of two days to deliver talks on the latest technology within the fire services, the use of robots to support Incident Commanders, managing extreme weather conditions such as what we witnessed with Hurricane Ophelia and Storm Emma and fire safety within buildings, to name but a few.
The event’s theme for this year was “Fire Service Delivery-Prepare for the Future”.
“It’s really looking at the challenges moving forward and out of the recession and exploring those challenges as they appear around the world. The more we listen to our colleagues around the world the more we realise we’re facing the same challenges.”, says Dave Carroll, Chairman of the CFAO and CFO for Co. Tipperary.
Mr Carroll continued:
“One of the biggest challenges we face is the state of our retained fire service and recruiting people within the service because it is becoming challenging to balance the demands of being on call 24/7 with managing a life.”
A second issue the conference highlighted was the Grenfell Tower Tragedy occurring in June 2017 where 71 people lost their lives. The CFOA are examining their response to that, however Mr Carroll has every faith in the Irish fire services.
“I certainly don’t believe the potential for a Grenfell type disaster exists in this country but really we can’t be complacent and we’re not complacent. We’re doing a lot of work and we’re working with the National Directorate through the Fire Safety Task Force to ensure a Grenfell type tragedy does not occur in this country.”
A key message surrounding fire safety Mr Carroll would like to be spread is public awareness around the topic and for the public to educate themselves.
“We have to make people more aware of the impact on their own behaviours around fire safety. The best asset we have is our people, firefighters, Chief Fire Officers.”
Mr Carroll says the challenges facing the Irish fire services are universal. The benefits of this are that we can learn from different countries how to manage specific challenges more effectively and in turn, different countries can learn from us.
“These problems aren’t unique to Ireland and the good thing about that are the solutions aren’t unique to Ireland either. We can learn from each other and others can learn from us.”