historyimageOne of the earliest references to an organized fire response is in a manuscript which gives an account of life in the monastic town of Clonmacnoise in the tenth century. It was in the 16th century that people came together and decided that some form of organised system should be in place to put out fires.

The system was based on the Church of Ireland parishes and each parish was required to keep 6 buckets and two ladders which could be utilised to extinguish fires within their own parish. These were called the Parish Brigades. The system was obviously inadequate. In 1715 a law was passed that each Church of Ireland parish had to maintain its own pump and the pump had to be able to be brought to attendance to any fire within the parish or to an adjoining parish. The Parish pumps were the first organised fire brigades in cites, but were not effective.

In the late 17th century insurance companies in order to help prevent huge losses from fires started to form their own fire fighting forces in Dublin, Cork and several other large towns. These small insurance brigades were responsible for the properties which were insured by their own company and were not obliged to respond to other fires.

hisrotyimage2In order to identify which property was protested by which company a distinctive type of plaque called a "Fire mark" was place on the wall of the property. The mark of Sun Alliance showed the face of the sun with rays emanating from it. Firemen working for the insurance companies were easily spotted because of their brightly coloured uniforms emblazoned with their employer’s logo. At certain times brigades would band together to fight a big fire providing suitable recompense The Towns improvement Act of 1854 allowed for local authorities to provide fire fighting and related equipment to be provided at their discretion for towns which were above 1,500 in population

history3By 1800 the towns were starting to acquire fire engines to protect their parishes from the ravages of fire. There is evidence in Tralee Town Council Records dating to 1864, that fire crews were being employed and compensated for lost wages due to illness or accidents which occurred in the line of duty. . At the start of 1940 the number of mobile appliances was only 24 and with war having broken out in the rest of Europe and the possibility of action occurring in Ireland an urgent improvement in the fire fighting capability became apparent.

Out of this reappraisal came the Fire Brigades Act of 1940 which was the basis for the first countrywide fire fighting system. Urban and rural authorities were now required to make provisions for the effective and prompt extinguishment of fires and the rescue of persons along with the recovery of property form fire.

Modern Times

history4In 1981 an extensive Fire Services Act was created which laid out an effective level of fire cover, training, fire planning and fire prevention measures. It also detailed powers available to fire service personnel during the course of an incident. This act is still in force at this time. The fire service is governed by the Department of Community and Environment and run locally by 37 different local authorities throughout the 26 counties.