by Peter McNally
(Skerries Historical Society Meeting – May 2014)
Keane’s ‘Bus Bar’ was packed for the Skerries Historical Society May talk from Peter McNally. Peter’s presentation was on ‘Skerries Fire Brigade 1940 – 2014’ and it was great to see a good many serving and former fire fighters in the audience.
Peter traced the development of the Skerries fire service from its beginnings in 1940 during The Emergency with the ARP (Air Raid Precaution) wardens – all volunteers. Today’s fire fighters are no longer unpaid volunteers but they have to be dedicated: they are a ‘retained’ force which means they all have full time jobs but manage to find the time to undergo the same rigorous training as a full time fire fighter and are paid only for the time they give for training, practice and call-outs.
The service had its first home in Quay Street – just next to where the building work is currently going on. It was a small building for a fire station but the equipment was limited to a handcart, a ladder, buckets and the use of a stand pipe so perhaps a large building wasn’t necessary. By the 1950s the service had acquired a van with a pump towed behind it. The station log books from the 1950s show the men were kept busy cleaning and maintaining the station and equipment – especially that vital piece of equipment, the pump. So each drill night the pump was sure to be tested.
Later in the fifties they moved to a new premises further down Quay Street which must have seemed a great improvement at the time but the premises did not keep pace with the equipment. In 1980 Skerries acquired a new, much larger appliance which was too tall for the Quay Street fire station. The fire engine was given a temporary home in Redmond’s coal yard while the men waited for a solution to the problem.
After four years of waiting they’d had enough. If a call came in they had to rush to the station to get into their fire fighting gear and then trot down the street to the coal yard to get to the appliance. And in the summer the street could be so packed with visitors cars that the vehicle couldn’t get through. Finally the fire fighters took matters into their own hands. They dug out the floor of the fire station, lowering it by at least a foot, using picks and shovels and on their own time, to make room for the appliance. Now that’s real dedication!
It’s just as well the fire fighters were so proactive – they had to wait another thirty years for the wonderful new, state-of-the-art station on the Dublin road. They certainly deserve it.
Report by Oona Roycroft
Page updated – 08 / 10 / 2014