Chief Fire Officers’ Association Annual Conference 2018

The Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) Annual Conference for 2018 took place this year at the Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, Co. Mayo.

The organisation itself acts as a professional voice for fire services in Ireland.

Spanning over two days, the events theme for this year was “Fire Service Delivery-Prepare for the Future”. Now in its 61st year, the conference was hosted in Mayo for the fourth time running.

The first occasion was in 1974 under the then Conference Secretary T. Ruddy. Chief Fire Officer for Mayo, Seamus Murphy, took on the role of Conference Secretary for the second conference in the County in 1986, 2003 and now in 2018.

“We had a number of speakers from Ireland and international speakers from Austria, the Czech Republic, the National Fire Protection Association in America and also from the UK and Scotland,” said Chief Fire Officer for Tipperary and Chairman of the CFOA, Dave Carroll.

“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.”

Keynote speakers over the two days included Vladimir Vlcek, the Chief Fire Officer of Morivia Silesia Fire & Rescue Service, Markus Ebner, the General Secretary for the Austrian Fire Brigade Association, Sean Hogan, the National Director for Fire & Emergency Management and Sarah Neary, Principal Adviser for the Housing Advisers & Building Standards Section at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Among the topics discussed were: Managing Severe Weather Emergencies from an international perspective, The Use of Robots to Support Incident Commanders, Fire Services-Deliverig Integrated Emergency Management for Ireland and The Austrian Fire Service-Structure and Delivery. There was also various tech talks on the latest fire services equipment.

The annual hosting of this conference gives the fire services trade a chance to meet in a formal and informal fashion in order to discuss current issues within the sector and find solutions in unison.

“The overall idea of the conference is, you have Chief Fire Officer’s all across the country, we’re all working in our counties doing what we can, we all have similar issues. The intention is to have an organised conference to discuss issues and try and come up with solutions where possible,” said Adrian Kelly, Chief Fire Officer for Clare and Secretary of the CFOA.

Key issues that cropped up were managing the retained firefighters service and recruiting more firefighters in Ireland. Extreme weather conditions and emergency response was also highlighted, aswell as building standards and the need to create more public awareness around fire safety.

A Trade Show presenting all the latest fire services equpiment was hosted in between sessions of speeches across the two days.

Adrian Kelly concludes with what he sees for the future of the fire sevices:

“What I see is we maintain our strength at a local level, in each county we have our own fire service. We will build on the local standards and the national guidelines that are provided by Mr Sean Hogan and his people.

“We work with the Department, the local authorities and we continue to ensure that first of all, people maintain their faith and trust in the service that is dependable and available. We want to build on what we have, try to look at new models and see if there’s a way of improving the retained service and what’s needed.”

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