Public Safety

Public Safety Unit

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health (DoH) is responsible for the development of Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue pensions’ policy and legislation and for monitoring of service delivery for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.  

Public Safety Unit (PSU) is part of the Department’s Resources and Corporate Management Group.

Fire and Rescue Services in Northern Ireland and Fire Safety are carried out under the Fire and Rescue Services (NI) Order 2006, The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland ) 2010 and The Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011.  Funding of this service is provided by the Department through Grant in Aid.  

The methodology for financial accountability of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is contained in the Management Statement Financial Management (MSFM) agreed with the Department in July 2017.  The MSFM is subject to periodic review.

Public Safety Unit responsibilities include:

Advising the DoH Minister on:

  • objectives and targets for NIFRS in the light of the Department’s strategic aims and the Programme for Government
  • appropriate budget for NIFRS in the light of the Department’s overall public expenditure priorities and advice from the Department’s Finance Directorate
  • monitoring and reporting on the NIFRS strategic objectives to ensure it is delivering value for money

In support of the Departmental Accounting Officer, PSU will:

  • monitor NIFRS’ activities on a continuing basis through an adequate and timely flow of information on performance, budgeting, control and risk management, including the NIFRS’ Governance Statement
  • address in a timely manner any significant problems arising from NIFRS, whether financial or otherwise, making such interventions in the affairs of NIFRS as the Department judges necessary to address such problems
  • periodically carry out a risk assessment of NIFRS’ activities to inform the Department’s oversight of NIFRS; strengthen these arrangements if necessary; and amend the Management Statement and/or Financial Memorandum accordingly. The risk assessment will take into account the nature of NIFRS’ activities; the public monies at stake; its corporate governance arrangements; its financial performance; internal and external auditors' reports; and any other relevant matters
  • inform NIFRS of relevant Government policy in a timely manner; if necessary, advise on the interpretation of that policy and issue specific guidance to NIFRS as necessary
  • bring concerns about the activities of NIFRS to the attention of the Departmental Board and require explanations and assurances from the NIFRS that appropriate action to address those concerns has been taken
  • develop firefighters pension legislation and other fire safety related legislation


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