Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) recently welcomed Health Minister Simon Hamilton to Rathlin Island Fire Station. During his visit the Minister met Firefighters who live and work on Rathlin Island.
The current Rathlin Island Fire Station, officially opened in June 2007, holds the unique accolade as the first UK Rescue Station for both the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and the Maritime Coastguard Agency.
Rathlin Island Fire Station is one of 67 Fire & Rescue Stations situated across Northern Ireland.
There are 11 Firefighters at Rathlin Island Fire Station who are trained to deal with fires and other emergency incidents.
Minister Hamilton met NIFRS Northern Area Commander Paul Coyle and District Commander (Coleraine District) Noel Darley before being shown around the Station by Watch Commander Noel McCurdy. The Station houses one Water Tanker Pumping Appliance, equipment storage facilities and a staff area including training and washing facilities.
The Minister heard how Rathlin Island Fire Station plays a pivotal role in keeping the local community safe, as well as the large number of tourists who enjoy the beautiful scenery on the island. In May 2013, Firefighters from Rathlin Island Fire Station attended a large gorse fire which required considerable support from their mainland colleagues. The island is a special conservation area and is home to several species of wildlife, so it was vital that Firefighters acted quickly to protect both life and property. The professionalism shown by all the Firefighters in attendance, as well as co-operation from the staff from Rathlin Ferry Company was vital in bringing the incident to a safe conclusion and showcased the unique challenges of island life.
Health Minister Simon Hamilton said: “I wish to commend the volunteer firefighters for giving up their time and for risking their lives when required to tackle fires and other incidents on the island. It is reassuring to know that we have such a well-trained and capable fire and rescue crew here to protect and serve both the residents and the many tourists who visit the island each year.”
Speaking at the visit, NIFRS Northern Area Commander Paul Coyle said; “We are delighted to welcome the Health Minister Simon Hamilton to Rathlin Island Fire Station and to showcase the important role that the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service has played in the local community for almost 40 years. This was an opportunity to highlight the excellent service provided by the 11 Firefighters based on Rathlin Island.”
Watch Commander Noel McCurdy added, “In addition to our firefighting duties staff also provide non-emergency work aimed at keeping both residents and visitors to the Island safe. To date, 56 Home Fire Safety Checks have been carried out on homes and we have been working closely with the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to further encourage holiday homeowners to avail of this service.
“We are proud of our history on Rathlin and will continue to work hard to ensure the safety of everyone on the Island.”