After 32 years Eamon Gallagher has retired from the NI Fire & Rescue Service, and he’s loved every minute.
The 55-year-old Strabane man joined the retained service in his home town in 1984, and went on to serve in Derry, Enniskillen and Coleraine.
Eamon enjoyed a special retirement event in Derry with colleagues and his family last Friday.
“It’s been good and I’ve enjoyed every minute; the camaraderie, the people.
“It’s gone so fast and come on me so quickly,” says the retired the retired Group Commander.
“I’ve really enjoyed helping people.”
Before he joined the Fire Service, Eamon worked as a carpet fitter and a bus driver.
Just six weeks after he started with the NIFRS, whilst out on training in Belfast, Eamon was part of a team who came across a police officer who had been shot and he helped administer first aid.
The team were commended for their actions.
Eamon, the NIFRS’ most experienced Fire Safety Officer, says it has been a demanding job and he says his family have been brilliant support over the years.
He recalls times when he was away training, when his children were growing up, or occasions when he’d been out for a meal with his wife Annette and he’d have to drop everything when he received a call.
“That’s what you had to do,” said Eamon.
Over the years, Eamon has worked on a variety of incidents, including road tragedies, house fires and water rescue operations.
One of the worst scenes he has ever attended was the Enniskillen bombing in 1987.
Eamon admits being retired and off the job will take some getting used to, but he’s happy to take things easy in the meantime.
One thing he is sure of is that he will always be championing fire safety.
Eamon says the NIFRS is “a brotherhood” and he’ll miss that. He said the NIFRS is an excellent organisation, which has embraced many changes along the way. He encourages anyone thinking of a career in the NIFRS to go for it.
“It’s a career well worth going for,” he said. “There is great support, enjoyment and satisfaction.
“It’s definitely something to grasp.”
Eamon thanked everyone he worked with over the years in the NIFRS, and all those he’s met from outside agencies.