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23/03/2021   National Audit Office: Number of fire fighters on duty and provision of equipment do not meet minimum requirements

The number of fire fighters on duty in shifts of fire fighting force is smaller than required, the provision of fire fighters with equipment and personal protective equipment does not meet the minimum requirements, the response time to reports does not always meet the standard requirements, and the management of the fire risk lacks focus on the results, as demonstrated by the audit “Performance of fire fighting forces in reducing the number of fires and fire damage” carried out by the National Audit Office of Lithuania (NAOL).

Over the past four years, there have been 41.6 thousand fires, killing 354 people, destroying and damaging more than 200 thousand sq. m of residential and non-residential area. Lithuania ranks 3rd place among 46 countries in the world according to the number of deaths per 100 thousand residents.

Lithuania employs 5.5 thousand fire fighters for fire fighting forces, almost half of which are municipal fire fighters, who are assigned only to carry out primary rescue operations. For this reason, they have lower requirements for preparation, health, provision of equipment and protective equipment. The audit carried out by the NAOL shows that some of these fire fighters actually perform not only primary rescue operations, however they are not properly equipped for the performance of these operations. Without specifying what constitutes the primary rescue operations, the volume of municipal fire fighters’ work is not clear and the proper preparation for the functions assigned to them is not ensured.

“The number and variety of fire brigades to be formed are not assessed at national level in order to ensure proper response and timely arrival at the site with sufficient forces of fire fighters and equipment. Regarding the cases analysed, 41% of the brigades on duty had fewer fire fighters than established by standards. Half of the municipal fire services that first arrived at the fire station had only one fire fighter”, says Rasa Rakauskienė, Chief Advisor of the Governance Audit Department.

Fire fighting forces lack equipment and tools for fire fighting and rescue: State fire fighting forces lack 38%, municipal fire forces lack 29% of the tools, for their provision with tools to meet at least the minimum set requirements. As many as 80% of the state fire fighting forces and 25% of the tankers of the municipal fire fighting forces had incomplete fire fighting and rescue equipment. Most of the tools are old: 42% of the state fire fighting forces’ tools are more than 15 years old, while 69% of the tools of municipalities – more than 20 years old.

The fire fighting forces must be notified of the fire incident within 2 minutes, however, on average, about 35% of the notifications sent by the Emergency Response Centre exceeds the maximum time limit twice. The time for the fire forces to leave must not exceed 1 minute and the time of arrival of the first forces at the site of the incident – 8 minutes in urban residential areas and 18 minutes in rural areas. However, in more than 37% of cases, fire fighting forces left the station by exceeding the maximum time limit. In three (out of 10) counties in urban residential areas and in one county in the rural settlement area, the target was not reached so that at least 80% of the fire fighting forces would arrive within the established maximum time limit. 

The results of the audit show that there is a need to improve fire prevention: enhance the coordinating role and define the functions of bodies involved in fire fighting. According to the auditors, it is necessary to strengthen responsibility for violations of fire safety requirements. Fines imposed (on average EUR 18.00) do not encourage the elimination of violations of fire safety requirements and do not prevent the recurrence of these violations.

The implementation of the recommendations of this audit would help to form fire fighting forces that are properly prepared for fire fighting and rescue operations and that the risk of fire is adequately managed.


Responsible for the information Communication Division
Last updated on 2 April 2021

National Audit Office of Lithuania

Pamėnkalnio St 27, LT-01113 Vilnius, Phone: +370 608 92 636, Email: