THERE was a full house when potential fire-fighters attended a Northern Ireland Fire Service (NIFRS) recruitment drive at Castlederg Station recently.
They were told that fire-fighters are vital components of their local community – providing an emergency response service 24/7.
The evening began with people rolling in steadily, and there were no shortage of local men and women interested in stepping up to serve their community.
They were brought to attention by Group Commander, David Doherty, who opened the presentation.
He explained that fire-fighters must be able to respond to emergencies by making their way to the Fire Station within five minutes when alerted by pager.
Continuing, he described how all fire-fighters are trained to a high standard, partaking in 12 training days per year to ensure they are equipped to protect their local community.
And as David guided the potential recruits through the fundamentals of NIFRS, on the other side of the door, Watch Commander Ralph Lyons took charge of his crew – who lined up for roll call.
After everyone was accounted for, two of the longest standing fire-fighters at Castlederg station spoke about their motivations for joining many years beforehand.
“I joined back in September 1981,” said Stephen Montieth, “So that must be 42 years ago now,” he roughly calculated.
“I mainly joined for the camaraderie and to be of service in the community.”
And with a compelling nod, Stephen labelled Castlederg’s crew as “second to none in Northern Ireland.”
Roy Irwin, Crew Commander, then introduced himself and said, “I joined the brigade in 1979 – so I’ve been in for 43 years now.
“The fire service was always interesting to me; I had family members in it who have since retired but I also joined for the comradeship.”
Never imagining he would have stuck it out in the service for this long, Roy pinpointed the solidarity between the crew as a motivating factor to stay.
The event also included a chance to see some of the drills and training which fire-fighters have to take part in.
Then the crew mingled amongst the interested guests for the duration of the open evening, relaying all their knowledge and experience on the role.
The glint in each fire-fighter’s eye spoke of the same thing…
They are proud to be firefighters – serving Castlederg and its people.
TWO of the newest recruits at Castlederg Fire Station, Josh Loughery and Andy Hamilton, said they joined Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service for one simple reason: To help their community.
“A fire-fighter has always been a person I’ve looked up to from a young age,” said Josh.
Andy concurred, admitting a popular children’s cartoon inspired his aspirations to fight fires.
“Whenever I was a young cub I always wanted to be a fireman,” he said.
“I would sit in the house watching Fireman Sam and thinking, I would love to be a fireman one day!”
Taking a more serious tone, Andy continued, “It’s your own community you’re helping, and nine times out of ten, you’re going to know the person you’re going out to rescue.”
“So why would you not want to help your community?” he asked.
“That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day – that’s why everyone does the job.”
Both men describe the team at Castlederg Fire Station as “fantastic.”
“Everybody here goes out of their way to help. We are all one big team here,” said Andy.
He added, “They’re the best bunch of lads – and lady! – you could work with.”
Concluding, Josh reasoned why other young people should join up.
“You have nothing to lose by trying. Just give it a shot. The job satisfaction is great.”
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