On the last fire drill of the last millennium at the old Letterkenny Fire Station the below firefighters signed a special drill sheet at a function at the station.
That was in 1999. It was a meeting of members of the fire service past and present and it was also the start of the departure for the old station on the High Rd. as plans were well under way for a new home for Letterkenny Fire Brigade on the De Valera Rd. In them days the Sub Station officer and Station Officer were also handing over the taking of calls to a new central call centre.
Kevin Mc Glynn
Eamonn Sam O’Donnell
Robert Mc Menamin,
Brian Mc Daid
Danny Mc Glynn,
Jim Mc Glynn
Three worn switches are now all that remains of the old fire station that once stood on the High Rd. in Letterkenny. If you go looking for them you will have little chance of finding them on what now is a car park on the High Rd.
That old station was once a state of art purpose built to house two fire engines and was also a three bedroom home built for one of the county’s first Fire Chief’s the late, Jack Lillis.
On Friday night last Letterkenny said farewell to their man in charge for looking after fire cover for the biggest town in Donegal for over a quarter of a century.
At the Arena 7 a reunion of sorts of fire service personnel retired and operational came together to wish Mickey Molloy a firefighter’s farewell as he stepped down after 27 years service as Sub Station and Station Officer for the Letterkenny Fire Brigade.
To finish a job with 27 years service is a great honour but as a retained firefighter it’s more than the years it suggests. For someone working in a nine to five job working 40 hours a week, they can walk away every evening and also enjoy their weekends off.
If you ask the family of any retained firefighter not only have they to be available 40 hours but also have to be available the remaining 128 hours night and day that make up a full 168 hour week.
Answering the call
Mickey Molloy started with the Letterkenny Fire Brigade in 1990 and had the extra responsibility of taking the calls for the brigade from the day he started. Letterkenny is one of the busiest stations in Co. Donegal and as the retired Chief Fire Officer Frank Keranne recalled at Mickey Molloy’s retirement function on Friday night that Micky Molloy took on the responsibility of the phones when he started as the rank of Sub Station Officer 27 years ago.
In them early years Mickey shared the pressure of manning the phones with his officer in charge. Danny Grieve. Both of these families like the families before them in Letterkenny and in every fire station in Co. Donegal had to deal directly with the public in an emergency, whenever it happened and had to try to settle a distraught caller in order to get vital information to deal with an emergency call.
When the old station was built in Letterkenny the Chief Fire Officer for Co. Donegal lived in the station with his family in a three bedroom house which was attached to a two bay fire station. In them early days everyone knew when there was a fire call as the siren called out from the top of the fire station to summon the fire men to make their way to the fire station. Over the years the fire siren was fazed out as new technology was introduced in the form of a small bleep that each retained firefighter was issued with.
Tucked away under the stairs in Mickey Molloy’s home on New Line Court are three switches which were used to call out the Fire Brigade in Letterkenny, There was one to operate the old siren which could be heard all over Letterkenny to let fireman know there was a fire call, there also was a switch for 1st call bleeps and second call bleeps for the fireman which would be decided by the officer after receiving information of the extent of the firecall.
On Friday night past that big family of firefighters from Letterkenny past and present and the administration staff at head quarters that work behind the scenes and fellow firefighter from all over Donegal came together to wish the town’s Station Officer, Mickey Molloy all the best.
“I did it my way”
Any firefighter will tell you that no two fires are the same. That can also be said for the people that fight fires. If it was only so simple to go by the book and a fire was everything exactly as the book described it the job would be a lot easier. It’s one million years since humans first discovered fire, firefighters on the ground still know more about fires than have ever been written in any book.
On reflection this week Mickey Molloy took Frank Sinatra’s advice and “Did it his way!” and it seems to have work well for him.
The crew that he was in charge of in Letterkenny Fire Brigade clubbed together and paid for a special farewell trip for Mickey to go to New York for St. Patrick’s Day this year.
Last Friday night at Mickey Molloy’s retirement function Northern Ireland Fire Service were represented where they made a presentation as was the Gardai in Letterkenny, The Donegal Fire Association, Letterkenny Fire Brigade and Donegal Co. Council who is the governing body for the Fire Service.
I think the crew that worked under Station Officer Mickey Molloy summed it up the best by clubbing together and paying for a trip for their boss to America this year of the St Patrick’s Day.
Mickey Molloy is the last of his type of Station Officer in Letterkenny in that he took calls for fires in his home as did all the Station Officers before him. Now the Station Officers and Sub Station officers are paged like all the other firefighter to station from a central call centre in Co. Mayo.
Gone is the old siren that echoes through the town to say that someone is in bother, be that in a fire or in a car accident, Letterkenny once was a two fire engine station and over the years it was increased to a four engine station at the old premises on the High Road.
Now Letterkenny is an eight fire engine station which was developed to deal with all the extra demands of safety that have been introduced over the years.
There still is a part of Letterkenny Fire Station in Donegal but it’s now on an island on Arranmore, the newest part of the old Letterkenny station made in steel was dismantled when the old station closed and was modified by the fireman on the Arranmore Island to form their new Fire Station which now houses their equipment and fire tender.
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