Alex Easton MLA has today called on Ards and North Down Council to award the Freedom of the Borough to the NI Fire Service after visiting Holywood Fire Station.

Speaking today Alex Easton MLA said:

I was very surprised when I looked into this that the NIFRS had not ever received the Freedom of the Borough by our local council, and I personally was very surprised by this and felt that it was time to put this right and recognize the time, dedication and effort that is put in by the NIFRS to the hundreds of call-outs they do every year, saving lives helping the elderly and vulnerable the education programs they do with schools and safety inspections and advice as well as the fun-days they attend within out local community. As many know of the personal tragedy that I suffered with the loss of my parents due to a fire and I have seen with my own eyes the effort these firefighters made to save my parents which I am eternally grateful for, which is why I am today calling on Ards and North Down Council to award the NIFRS the freedom of the Borough which I believe they richly deserves and is the highest honor we can bestow on an organization.”


The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service(NIFRS) formerly Northern Ireland Fire Brigade) is the statutory fire and rescue serviceforNorthern Ireland. The NIFRS is overseen by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board, which in turn is subordinate to the Department of Health. NIFRS has a workforce of around 2,230 personnel.

NIFRS covers Northern Ireland, an area of over 5,500 square miles (14,000 km2) with a population of 1.9 million people. Service Headquarters is located in Lisburn Co. Antrim.

The current Chief Fire & Rescue Officer is Andy Hearn.


Organized firefighting began in what is now Northern Ireland in the 19th century. In 1800, the Belfast Borough Police were established and firefighting was one of their duties. the firefighting units were later separated from the police to form the Belfast Fire Brigade.

Until World War II, towns had their own fire services. In 1942, Northern Ireland’s fire services were amalgamated into one, though they were separate from the National Fire Service that covered the rest of the United Kingdom. After the war, the service was split into the re-established Belfast Fire Brigade and the Northern Ireland Fire Authority, which covered the rest of Northern Ireland.

On 1 October 1973, the two fire services were merged into a single service, named Northern Ireland Fire Brigade. In 2006, the service adopted its current name of Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

The NIFRS has 68 fire stations split into four geographical command areas.

The Southern area has 23 fire stations serving 595,000 people in an area of 1,454 square miles (3,770 km2) It is headquartered in Portadown, with district headquarters in Bangor, Downpatrick, Newry, and Portadown.

In 2016/17, NIFRS received 36,069 emergency calls, an increase of 7.9% on the previous year. Of these calls a total of 23,740 were mobilized.