As Dublin City Council pledges to begin a recruitment drive for fire-fighters, averting strike action by Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) staff, new figures show a dearth of young officers on the force.
Information released to Sinn Féin Councillor Noeleen Reilly shows that just 15 out of the 847 officers employed are under the age of thirty.
More than half of the force are aged over 40. Of these 374 are aged between 41 and 50 and some 172 people who work in Dublin Fire Brigade are aged over 50. Meanwhile, 286 officers are aged between 31 and 40.
Cllr Reilly said the demographics illustrate the council’s recruitment policy which has led to serious concerns that by January, Dublin Fire Brigade would be some 100 people under the 900 figure needed to run the service safely, due to retirements.
“There has not been one single fire fighter recruited from open competition since 2009,” Cllr Reilly pointed out.
“As a result the age demographics in the service are completely skewed and in future years will cause significant problems.
“In ten or fifteen year’s time we are going to have serious problems when it comes to retirement of existing fire fighters but it also shows that young people are not being given the opportunity to have a career in the fire service,” she said.
A rolling recruitment policy would ensure that the situation does not arise again where Dublin Fire Brigade is facing serious staff shortages due to retirements from the service.
Cllr Reilly said: “We can’t have a situation where all our fire fighters are the same age.”
The council has committed to recruiting more fire officers which should lead to a more evenly spread age demographic.
Recent strike action was agreed by Dublin Fire Brigade staff to protest a council decision to use a confined competition to source new staff to fill the vacancies.
Representatives argued that this would delay the process unnecessarily while fire officers were working unsuitable overtime to bridge the gaps.
A new recruitment plan and promotion programme, along with a time-frame for that recruitment has since been agreed following a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) process.
Below is a breakdown of the number of fire-fighters recruited via open competition since 2008.
In 2013, the 28 candidates recruited were hired as Emergency Services Controllers and “will progress to the role of fire fighters in due course” according to the council.
Also in that year 25 appointments were made via a confined competition for fire-fighter positions, which was restricted to the four Dublin local authorities.