Civil Defence Ireland

Civil Defence Ireland (Irish: Cosaint Shibhialta na hÉireann) is the national civil defence organisation of Ireland. It is operated at local authority level in conjunction with the Department of Defence.

The organisation was established in 1950 in response to the threat of nuclear disaster posed by the atomic bomb following World War II or "The Emergency" as World War II was known in Ireland. Its purpose was to provide aid, assistance and disaster relief to citizens in time of emergency. Today, the organisation runs on the same principle with a focus on effectively aiding the full-time emergency services as and when required.

Civil Defence Ireland
Cosaint Shibhialta na hÉireann
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersRoscrea, County Tipperary, Ireland
Region served
Department of Defence
RemarksAppointment: Minister for Defence & Local Authority
The international distinctive sign of civil defence, defined by the rules of International Humanitarian Law and to be used as a protective sign

Organisation Structure

Civil Defence Ireland is composed almost entirely of volunteers, with the exception of the local authority-appointed Civil Defence Officers, Assistant Civil Defence Officers, administration, maintenance and stores personnel. The organisation provides five different services to the community, primarily acting as an auxiliary resource for the front-line emergency services, particularly the fire brigade rescue and ambulance service who may utilise the organisation's manpower, skills and equipment when requested.

Civil Defence Ireland - Rank Structure
Rank Civil Defence
Assistant Civil
Defence Officer
Commander 1st Officer 2nd Officer 3rd Officer Leader Assistant Leader Volunteer
Epaulette Cdrank1 Cdrank2 Cdrank3 Cdrank4 Cdrank5 Cdrank6 Cdrank7 Cdrank8 Cdrank9
Civil Defence Services/Disciplines*
Auxiliary Fire Service Trained in firefighting and flood relief.
Rescue Service Trained to rescue individuals in emergency situations in a wide variety of disciplines Ranging from basic search to urban search and rescue, heavy rescue, swift water rescue and High-line/technical rescue.
Casualty Service Providers of emergency care at different levels in emergencies or Ambulance cover at events with fully trained first aid levels such as CFR, OFA, FAR, EFR, all the way through to EMT.
Welfare Service Provide care, comfort and shelter for personnel both domestic and foreign in emergencies as well as providing Logistics and support to same.
Warden Service Provide radio communications networks and radiological monitoring.
  • Service structure is exclusive to Dublin and Cork city units. Most other Civil Defence units are divided by location, and train in some or all of the above disciplines as required by County needs.


The organisation uses many different types of vehicles. Some are purpose-built and some have been adapted into new roles such as mobile incident command units. Many of the vehicles have all-terrain capabilities such as Land Rover Defender/Mercedes G Class field ambulances, Bedford and Iveco four-wheel drive lorries and Bandvagn 206 personnel carriers. Standard vehicles such as emergency ambulances, support units and class B fire appliances are also available for use by their respective services. Vehicle livery is generally non-standardised orange and blue on a white background with the exception of Dublin Civil Defence who use fleet-standard orange/blue striping over white paintwork with high visibility markings on the rear on all new vehicles. The Water Rescue Unit have a fleet of inshore patrol vessels and rigid-hulled inflatable boats.


Following a redesign of the uniform in recent years there are now two main standard configurations of uniforms within the organisation, namely the Workwear No. 2 Uniform and the Service Dress No. 1 Uniform. All members of the organisation are issued with the standard Workwear No. 2 Uniform consisting of:

  • Boots
  • Baseball Cap
  • Hi-Viz Vests
  • Navy Combat Trousers
  • Navy Open Necked Shirt
  • Navy Waterproof Trousers
  • Orange and Navy Waterproof Jackets
  • Soft Shell Long Sleeved Jackets
  • White Wicking T-Shirt

Also as a change from the normal practice within some areas of the organisation, instructions now clearly outline such uniform rules as "Badges/Decorations or any other items CANNOT be worn or attached to any item of the Workwear Uniform i.e. shirt, t-shirt, waterproof jacket, soft shell jacket."[1]

The No.1 Dress Uniform, is worn at certain occasions under the direction of the local Civil Defence Officer. The core components of the No. 1 Dress Uniform are:

  • Navy Tunic
  • Navy Trousers/Skirt
  • White Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Plain Navy Clip-on Tie
  • White Lanyard
  • Black Laced Footwear and Black Socks
  • Cap/Beret (Officers wear a peaked cap in place of the beret.)

These core components are supplemented by some additional components for particular occasions such as White Gloves, White belt etc. as directed by the Civil Defence Officer.

While these are the main two configurations of uniforms there are also a number of other configurations for different specialist areas. For example members of the Auxiliary Fire Service are issued with firefighting jackets/trousers, gloves, fire boots and firefighter's helmets. Members of the rescue service wear a jumpsuit and safety boots/helmets. Members of the Water Rescue Unit are issued with drysuits, water rescue helmets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs).

Notable emergency calls

The Civil Defence can be activated by request from civil power (gardaí), local authority, fire services and the Health Service Executive. The organisation may also respond to incidents witnessed in active duty such as road traffic collisions. They may also respond to non-statutory requests at the discretion of the Civil Defence Officer.

Selected notable events in the organisation's history are:

  • 1965 North Wall Depot Fire - firefighting support (in support of the Dublin Fire Brigade)
  • 1981 Stardust fire - disaster relief (supporting Dublin Fire Brigade)
  • 1987 Raglan House Explosion - firefighting and rescue (supporting Dublin Fire Brigade)
  • 1995 Dublin/Wicklow Mountains Forest Fires - firefighting (supporting Dublin Fire Brigade)
  • 2002 Flooding in Dublin's North Inner City - rescue and water pumping (supporting Dublin Fire Brigade)
  • 2009 Adverse weather Nationwide - flood relief and water supply (supporting County Fire Services, Irish Red Cross, Irish Defence Forces and Gardaí)
  • 2017 Storm Ophelia response.
  • 2018 Storm Emma response.

Civil Defence College

The Civil Defence College was initially based at Ratra House in Dublin's Phoenix Park before relocating to Roscrea, County Tipperary in 2006. The college is housed within the national headquarters of Civil Defence and serves to provide potential instructors with a level of education that will allow them to teach classes of volunteers to be competent in their service's skills. Courses include AFS Instructor, Radio Communications Operator/Instructor, Emergency First Responder and Emergency Medical Technician. The college is approved by the Pre-hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) to train members to practitioner (EMT) level and is approved to implement the Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) set down by PHECC.


Dublin Auxiliary Fire Service Dennis RS Fire Engine
Dublin Civil Defence Incident Command Unit with battenburg markings
Dublin Civil Defence Field Ambulance on Land Rover Defender Chassis
Dublin Civil Defence 4x4 utility vehicle
Dublin Civil Defence Minibus
Dublin Civil Defence van-based Ambulance
Dublin Auxiliary Fire Service Dennis RS Fire Engine
Leyland Sherpa Fire & Rescue Support Vehicle, Dublin

See also



  1. ^ "Civil Defence Circular, CD 02/2012, The Wearing of the Civil Defence Volunteer Uniform" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-25.

External links

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