The fire department is to be rendered a separate body from the police with its own hierarchy, under government bills approved by the cabinet on Tuesday.
The aim, justice minister Ionas Nicolaou explained, is to make the fire department more efficient and flexible, able to act immediately and without delay.
The relevant bills are to be submitted to parliament in early January, with a view to fast-tracking them.
They provide for new recruitment criteria and promotion procedures inside the department.
Under the new system, the department will be headed by a Chief Fire Marshal, under whom three fire marshals will serve.
Fire stations are to be manned by both full-time personnel and reservists. For the latter, their hiring is to be regulated by law.
The reservists will liaise and organise with volunteer firemen in each district, to ensure faster deployment to an area where a fire has broken out.
With the changes, the fire department will no longer be part of the state’s security forces, and – as is the case now – firemen will not carry firearms.
The changes, Nicolaou said, are deemed necessary to ensure a more rapid response given the increase in fires in recent years.