Short History of the Fire Service in Ireland
One of the first recordings of an organised fire team is in the town of Clonmacnoise during the 10th Century. In the late 1600’s insurance companies formed their own fire fighting services in Dublin and other major towns to help prevent the huge insurance claims from fire. These fire services were responsible for the properties which were insured by their company only to enable the fire services to identify which property was insured by which company a “Firemark” was placed on the wall of the property. Sometimes the fire service would join together to fight a big fire, but only if they received payment afterwards .The firemen who worked for the insurance companies wore bright coloured uniforms with the insurance companies logo. John Oats was employed by the Dublin City in 1711 for £6 per year to maintain a water engine and employ 6 men at his expense to be ready in the event of a fire. By the 19th century the guards and parishes had their own engines.The town improvements Act 1854 gave permission to local councils to provide fire fighting equipment if the population was over 1500 people. In 1862 the Dublin Fire Brigade Act came into force which with the creation of the brigade in Dublin lessened the need for insurance brigades. In 1877 the Volunteer Fire Brigade was set up in Cork and commanded by Mark Wickham from Dublin. The Public Health Act of 1907 allowed the local authorities to enter into arrangements for the common use of firefighting equipment. If rural areas needed urban Fire Brigades they had to pay all costs involved. Dublin received its first motor pump on December 16th 1909 a machine designed by Mr. Purcell and built by Leyland. It was 50hp 4 cylinder dual ignition with forced lubrication to all bearings. It had a rear mounted turbine pump, which could pump 350 gallons pm .It’s equipment included 32 feet of 5inch suction, 1500 feet of delivery hose standpipes and various tools. At the start of 1940 the number of mobile appliances was only 24 and with war having broken out in the rest of Europe, the possibility of action happening in Ireland there was an urgent need to improve the fire fighting capability in Ireland became obvious. From this reappraisal came the Fire Brigades Act 1940 which became the basis for the first countrywide firefighting system. Local authorities were now obliged to make provision for an effective and prompt extinguishing of fires and the rescue of persons from fire. The Fire Services Act of 1981 laid out an effective level of fire cover, training, fire planning and fire prevention measures. It laid out guidelines For powers that the fire service personnel could use in the course of their duties. July 2012.