Late fireman cared for by nurse he saved as a child

The family of a firefighter who died recently have paid tribute to staff at the Foyle Hospice who cared for him - including a nurse who he had saved from a house fire when she was just five-years-old.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 11:48 am
Sisters Leona Melly and Claire Barber hold a photograph of the late father NIFSR Station Commander Kieran Barr. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2111GS -

Kieran Barr, who was a fireman for more than two decades and rose through the ranks to become a District Officer in the NIFRS, passed away earlier this month.

He had retired from the fire service in 2008, when he was station commander at Crescent Link Fire Station, and was diagnosed with cancer just a few short months later. 

Kieran battled cancer for the next 12 years and was admitted to the Foyle Hospice in January.

The late Crescent Link NIFSR Station Commander Kieran Barr. DER2110GS –

His daughter, Claire Barber, said the care her father received there was ‘incredible’.

”I never had any dealings with the Hospice before, and although I was aware of all the fundraising, I didn’t realise just how phenomenal their work is.

”They were just unbelievable. Daddy was in there for seven weeks before he passed away and the care he received was just incredible .”

Kieran, who was originally from Strabane but lived in the Waterside area of Derry, was incredibly well known due to his job as a firefighter and as a fervent union representative.

He had been Chairman for the Fire Brigade Union in the North and also acted as a referee for the Irish Football Association in the past.

Claire said her father was a very humble man and didn’t even tell his family about his encounter with the hospice nurse he had saved as a child.

”One of the doctors down there told us and then we heard the full story.

“Daddy remembered the nurse and remembered that she was hiding behind curtains when he saved her from the house fire.”

Kieran’s actions on that day saw him awarded the first of two medals he received for bravery during his career as a firefighter. “He said that the firemen were told not to go into the house,” Claire said. “But Daddy went on in and got the wee girl. He got burned in the fire as well.”

Following Kieran’s death, many tributes were paid to the 63-year-old. 

As his funeral cortege passed Crescent Link Fire Station, current firefighters formed a guard of honour and saluted their comrade.

”It was just beautiful,” Claire said. “With Covid we weren’t able to give daddy a proper, decent send off. The actions of the firefighters that day and all the tributes that have been paid to him have provided us with some comfort.

”We are finding out so much about him that we never knew before and I would love to be able to tell him how proud I am of him.”