By John Bromley
Enniscrone man Seamus Egan has retired from Sligo Fire Service after serving for almost 40 years as a firefighter, 26 of those years as station officer in the west Sligo resort.
Aged 65, he officially retired at 12 midnight on Wednesday of last week and he was on the job almost right up to the last minute. Well, five minutes to be exact.
Speaking to the Sligo Weekender on Thursday last, he said: “Last night we had two calls and we were coming back from the second one at five minutes to 12.”
Interestingly, his last call was in Ballina, a town where his first call had been back all those years ago.
“When we were in Ballina I showed the lads the house where my first call was back 40 years ago.”
And how did he decide to become a fireman.
“I was living almost next door to the old fire station in Enniscrone, just about a 100 yards down the road. The station officer told me they were looking for people to join and asked me if I would be interested and I said I would.”
Seamus said that at that time he was involved in fishing and he thought becoming a fireman was a way of helping people and “it was different”.
The fire service that Seamus joined in 1978 was very different to what it is today.
In Enniscrone the brigade had stepped up from operating with a Land Rover to having a fire engine.
But as Seamus says, “We had an appliance but it was a very old model and our equipment was basic.”
Training at the time was also very basic compared to now.
Now recruits have a three weeks intensive course, followed later by a two weeks course in breathing apparatus and further courses.
“When I started we went into Sligo fire station, which at that time was in a building like a hay shed in the Market Yard, every Saturday for 10 weeks.”
But he says they still managed to do the job.
“We went out to every fire and extinguished them and we dealt with car accidents.”
Another thing that has changed is that counselling is now available to firefighters in Sligo if they feel they need it at any stage.
Asked about dealing with tragic events, as firefighters often have to do, Seamus said: “Every year you will have at least one bad event. It is part of the job. People will say you get hard to it but you don’t. But now you have the back-up and there is counselling.”
For the full interview with Seamus, see this week’s Sligo Weekender newspaper – in shops now!
Alternatively, you can purchase an online edition here