Be forewarned: I have absolutely no Irish blood in me. However, given the great and long-standing tradition that those with Irish heritage hold within fire departments throughout the nation (as well as my upcoming trip to Ireland, which I’ll talk about later), I felt it only proper to craft something today about the Dublin Fire Brigade.
Although officially founded in 1862 by the Dublin Corporation Fire Brigade Act, the country of Ireland has written records and legislation pertaining to firefighting operations dating back to the 12th century A.D. According to the Irish Fire Services website, such archaically written gems include provisions for “forty buckets of leather for carrying of water to fight fires and twelve graps (sic) of iron for pulling houses that chance to be afire” (1546 A.D.), and the more absurdly graphic “…any person answerable for the burning of a street shall be arrested, cast into the middle of the fire, or pay a fine of 100 shillings” (1305 A.D.) As we would later see in the American history of volunteerism, Irish insurance companies would place “fire marks” on buildings to state which company protected the structure; for example, Sun Alliance placed a large metal sun with rays emanating outwards from it. (As a sidenote, Sun Alliance is still in business to this day—the original fire mark is visible at the bottom of their History page.)
The original superintendent—also known as the Chief Fire Officer—was a man by the name of J.R. Ingram, a native Dubliner who was a volunteer firefighter in both London and New York prior to his appointment. His initial brigade consisted of twenty-four men in a house off of Winetavern Street in Dublin, right near the famous Christchurch Cathedral.
Today, the Dublin Fire Brigade comprises almost 900 members with 14 stations, 22 fire engines, 12 ambulances, and a response area containing over 1 million citizens. The Fire Brigade runs the Emergency Ambulance Service (all the firefighters are paramedics, too) as well as staffing the call-taking center with actual firefighters. Their apparatus is currently manufactured by UK-based John Dennis Coachbuilders, and the training regimen runs about 16 weeks for basic firefighting. As stated before, much of this information is available through their well-stocked website or this nice little find, The Irish Fire Service’s Firefighter Handbook (it’s 277 pp. and 2.71MB, so be careful opening it. You’d be better off right-clicking and downloading it if you want to read it).
So anyways, let’s get down to business. In the end of February, I’ll be traveling to Dublin for almost a week of sightseeing, vacation, and (hopefully) a good bit of photography (both fire department and otherwise)—I’ve already piqued my interest with a Flickr search!
I’ve got some t-shirts and patches that I’m hoping to do a little trading with; what would really be great is if any readers/fellow bloggers know anyone who could get in touch with a DFB member I could meet up with. Medic 999, I’m looking at you! I know you’re in the UK, but just like us DCFD guys know some people in FDNY, I would hope you might have a few buddies in Ireland.