13 June 2011
DARD Renew Disease
Co-operation Agreement with NIFRS
Photo Caption - Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill, MLA, Chief Veterinary Officer Bert Houston and NIFRS Chief Fire Officer Peter Craig pictured after the signing of the new MOU at Coastal House in Belfast Port.
DARD Renew Disease Co-operation Agreement with NIFRS
Chief Fire Officer Peter Craig and Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill, MLA have agreed to continue to work close together during any future animal disease outbreak
The new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) replaces the previous agreement from 2007 which has recently expired and will be in place from June 2011.
Following the signing of the Memorandum, the Minister said: “The renewal of this agreement is of high importance to my Department and we have developed a very constructive close working relationship with the Fire Service over the past 4 years. The Fire Service are a key player along with DARD during any epizootic animal disease and I wish to thank them for playing a very constructive role in our contingency planning for any future disease outbreak since we all signed up to the original MOU four years ago.
“This MOU serves to ensure continuing effective co-operation between the Fire Service and DARD both in preparing for and responding to an outbreak of disease such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease or Avian Influenza. It provides a framework which defines and clarifies our respective roles and responsibilities so that in an outbreak situation both parties know precisely who is responsible and for what. This is an example of inter-agency cooperation at its best.
Outlining the scope of the MOU, the Minister said: “We are particularly grateful to the Fire Service for helping us adapt the NIFRS incident command and control model in order to establish sound working practices for command and control of premises affected by animal disease. These practices have since been incorporated into the Veterinary Service’s Contingency Plan for Epizootic Disease which is widely regarded as an example of good practice. The Fire Service have also attended mock exercises and assisted my officials in disease preparedness training.
“We look forward to continuing and strengthening our relationship with NIFRS in the months and years to come”.
Peter Craig, Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said:
“NIFRS remains proud to have led the way being the first fire and rescue service in the UK to develop a formal agreement with a Department of Agriculture, in relation to planning for and responding to an outbreak of large scale animal disease such as Foot and Mouth Disease, Bluetongue or Avian Influenza.
“Emergency planning, working in partnership, joint training and effective interagency co-operation at an incident or outbreak are all essential aspects of this MOU with DARD and its Veterinary Service.
“Its review and renewal is testament to our very strong working relationship and to our commitment to ensuring that we in Northern Ireland, have the highest levels of public safety during an outbreak of large scale animal disease.”
Notes to Editors:
- One of the recommendations in an independent report produced in 2002 by PricewaterhouseCoopers on DARD’s response to the 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease was that DARD should establish a dedicated Contingency Planning Unit for Epizootic Disease (CPED) with the aim of improving its overall preparedness for responding to any future outbreak of disease. This recommendation was accepted and the CPED Unit was established in 2004.
- Part of CPED’s remit was to ensure that DARD would have access to the resources necessary to cope with any future outbreak. Accordingly the Unit embarked, among other things, on a programme of agreements (Memoranda of Understanding) with internal DARD agencies, other Government Departments, District Councils, the industry, the PSNI and the NIFRS. Some of these agreements aim to provide human resource and or plant/equipment in an emergency. In the case of the NIFRS, valuable professional advice and on-scene incident support are on offer.
- As the NIFRS is responsible for responding to CBRN incidents, it is important for both DARD and NIFRS to have agreed plans in place for dealing with, for example, any incident involving escape of epizootic disease waste into the public domain, as this is classed as a biological hazard.
- Definition of Epizootic: a disease which is not present in the country but one which is likely to have serious economic effects on the Agricultural Industry if it did gain entry
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