Moville fire crew’s station officer has retired from service after almost 40 years.
Bernard Barr’s departure symbolises a real end of an era for the local station, as he was the last remaining member of the “old crew.”
Over the years, he has seen tragedy, camaraderie, a new fire station, new crew and, he admits, the odd cat stuck up a tree.
Speaking to the Journal, Bernard, who also works in McDonald’s Boat Yard in Greencastle, said he first joined the station as he wanted be part of something that helped the community.
He quipped: “I joined 36.75 years ago - I have that in writing now.
“It doesn’t seem like that length of time. The years have gone by so fast.”
Bernard’s last shift finished at “24.00 hours” on Wednesday night and he disclosed he would miss the station and crew.
“It’s hard to know what I’ll miss, but I will do. It’s been great to be in it and to be associated with our crew and neighbouring stations. We all get on very well together.”
Bernard said the biggest changes over his career were in technology and equipment.
He said: “We’ve been very well trained in how to use the equipment to assist people as much as possible. Everything is much more technical than what it was when I started. But, it’s really satisfying when you’re trained so well and are able to do the best for people.”
Bernard and his crew have helped hundreds of people over the years and there have been “lots of various incidents to deal with,” including severe flooding and hill fires.
He laughs as he admits that old cliche of a cat stuck in a tree actually did occur.
“It has happened, but only twice in my time. One was up a tree and the other was up a lamp post,” he said.
It’s memories like these that Bernard will hold dear as he leaves the station.
He said he has many to reminisce upon, both positive and negative.
He said: “Some things stay in your mind, such as going out with other stations and having the banter. We’ve seen people leave and also, sadly, one of our crew died suddenly a few years back. That was a shock and those things don’t leave you.”
What also remains are the tragedies and painful incidents. “We’ve seen a lot of that over the years,” he said.
“Thank God, for the past few there hasn’t been as many fatalities. But, counselling is available for anyone that needs it. When I started there was no such thing. But now, if someone feels they need to talk, you get that help.”
The camaraderie between the crew is also a big help and Bernard said they help each other out as much as they can.
While Bernard will miss the station and crew, he is looking forward to some spare time.
“I’ll still be working in the boat yard and hopefully I’ll be there for another 20 years,” he said
“I haven’t really any plans, but my wife, Kathleen and I will be able to go away more, as we were a bit restricted. I do have to thank her for all her support and help over the years. I have to extend my best wishes too to the new station officer Frank McDermott and sub-station officer Stewart Norris. I wish them and all the crew the very best for the future.”