At the presentation of long service medals to members of the fire service in the Knightsbrook Hotel were: Back row (from left) Graham Byrne (Trim), Paul Sheerin (Nobber), Declan Carey (Ashbourne), Declan Cassidy (Ashbourne), Michael Finegan (Nobber), John Hetherton (Oldcastle), Alan Egan (Dunshaughlin), Tommy Ayton (Trim), Peter Kane (Ashbourne). Front Row (from left) Packie Ballantyne (Navan), Richie Faulkner (Navan), Sheila Broderick (Chief Fire Officer), Ciaran Finn (Ashbourne), Eddie Manly (Ashbourne)

Long service medals presented to brave local firefighters

CEREMONY Medals given to members after 20 years and 30 years of service with a small number of 40 year medals also presented

More than 270 firefighters from around the country gathered in the Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim, last Thursday for the national presentation of long service awards to members of the fire service.

Awards for 20 years and 30 years of service were presented, along with a small number of 40 year medals, at the first awards ceremony held since the onset of the Pandemic.

It was also the first time the presentation, attended by 700 people, was hosted in Meath. Among those receiving awards were 13 firefighters, station officers and sub officers from Meath who received 20 year awards and three who were honoured with their 30 year medal.

There were also a number of recipients from Donegal Fire Service who responded to the recent tragedy in Cresslough, Co Donegal, and they were given a standing ovation for their role in responding to the tragedy when they were presented with their award.

Meath County Council Cathaoirleach Nick Killian opened proceedings by welcoming firefighters and their families to Trim and paid tribute to their dedication and professionalism.

"We know you are there all the time, whether in the city, or retained firefighters right around the country, who we depend on, and on behalf of Meath County Council, we thank you for your service."

He said there was huge respect for the service, particularly following what happened in Creeslough in Donegal. "You really you went over and above your service. You stayed there until everything was done and that is just a mark of the kind of people that you are and what you do for our communities. I know communities do appreciate that you are there, and you are there at a time when you are needed most."

"Congratulations to each of the award recipients, on your years of tireless service and quiet professionalism. Yours are a difficult role and though none of us ever hope to have need of you, it is a comfort to know committed and well trained fire services are there to support us in our time of need."

The awards were due to be presented by Minister Peter Burke but he had to pull out after being advised to rest after taking ill the evening before and Keith Leonard National Director for Fire and Emergency Management within the Department deputised in his absence and passed on his apologies.

"When these awards were first inaugurated the rationale behind them was for state to find a way to honour our fire services, for being there through the years, for being prepared to respond to calls for help, for dealing with traumatic situations and hazardous circumstances and serving their communities with courage and commitment."

He added that while many sectors had the option to work from home during the covid pandemic, firefighers did not have their opportunity. He also thanked them for being at the forefront of the response to severe weather incidents.

Mr Leonard also paid tribute to Donegal Fire Service. "I am mindful that it is little over a month since the tragic events that unfolded at Creeslough. Such loss of life is difficult to come to terms with and few of us will ever truly understand the community's feelings of grief and loss. I offer my sincere condolences to all of those who lost family friends and neighbours. I understand that several award recipients who are with us today from Donegal responded to Creeslough.

“I would like to thank them for their unwavering dedication professionalism nd the sensitivity shown on the afternoon and in the following days. My thoughts are with the people of Donegal, the brave first responders and especially the community of Creeslough.”