After 26 years as one of Rathlin Island’s firefighters, Noel McCurdy has decided to call it a day.
Born on the island, Noel was recognised for his service in protecting Rathlin’s 130 residents over the past three decades during a recent presentation ceremony.
Noel, who was the watch commander alongside 11 other volunteers, explained: “I retired three weeks ago and although I miss it, I just felt it was time to go. I have had many happy years and leave with fond memories.
“Back in 1990 Rathlin didn’t really have a fire station. it was just a garage with a small appliance. There were no bathroom or wash facilities. Then a few years later we got a new appliance. However it was bigger than the last one and wouldn’t fit into the garage so had to be parked outside. Over the years, the rain faded it and the red became pink so we were known as the only firefighters in Northern Ireland to drive around in a pink engine”
However six years ago, after much lobbying, the Rathlin Fire Service joined up with the Coastguard to provide a new state-of-the-art facility.
Noel continued: “As you can imagine we don’t get many call outs, the total per year would be single figures. Most are due to gorse fires with the odd traffic accident, however year’s ago we had our far share of chimney fires but that’s stopped now. However being a firefighter is not only about responding to incidents but also educating people. We also attend training courses both on and off the island.”
Not only volunteering as a firefighter, Noel has also been working for the lighthouse service for the past 20 years and looks after two of the three lighthouses on Rathlin. He concluded: “Obviously I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a firefighter, but it’s time I called it a day. I still have the lighthouses to keep me busy as well as my family and my work as a postman on the island.”
Meanwhile volunteer firefighter John D McFaul also retired from Rathlin Island Fire Service after an amazing 25 years service.
He was recognised for his commitment and dedicated service alongside Noel McCurdy during the presentation ceremony. John, who is also a native to Rathlin Island, left the service last year however continues his work alongside Noel with the LightHouse Service.
John added: “Noel looks after two of the lighthouses on Rathlin and I look after the other one near the bird sanctuary. I thoroughly enjoyed my service as a firefighter and learnt a lot however it was just my time to call it a day. I would like to thank everyone for their recognition and support.”