KT

Back to the future as fire service makes more progress

A MAJOR €400,000 upgrade has been promised for the Killarney Fire Station on the bypass road as part of an overall €61 million capital programme

The national plan will see six new fire stations built, support for the construction of a further 12 new fire stations, nine fire station refurbishments – including Killarney – and 35 new fire engines allocated.

End of an era: A fire tender leaving the old depot on Milk Market Lane for the last time in 1988

Kerry County Council has plans to add a 160m² extension to the existing base on the bypass road to incorporate an additional three-bay facility to house fire appliances and emergency vehicles.

Interior refurbishments are also in the pipeline to upgrade the administrative and ancillary areas and the redevelopment is required to cater for appliances that are currently parked outside of the station which is serviced by two seven-member crews.

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But even when construction work on the ultra modern new facility gets underway, it is unlikely to match the excitement and sense of elation that was witnessed when the current fire station was officially opened just short of 33 years ago.

It replaced a seriously outdated and totally unsuitable facility on Milk Market Lane – in the old town slaughter house – where there were major problems with traffic congestion. The station was located at the top of the narrow passageway between O’Connor’s Pub and the old Dunnes Stores with the latter since replaced by Quill’s of High Street.

The firemen on duty on the day the station transferred from Milk Market Lane to the bypass road

When the distinctive old fire siren blared from the town hall building, alerting firemen to a call-out, they often found themselves blocked into the narrow laneway off High Street because cars had been parked inappropriately and illegally along the lane or at the entrance.

The old slaughter house – in use for over 40 years – was an insult to the firemen that provided such a first-class service but the new bypass road station, built and equipped at a cost of £350,000, put an end to that bizarre situation and it ensured that they finally had a proper base to work from.

“The conditions we’ve had to endure down through the years have been nothing short of appalling,” station officer, Donal Grady, said in January 1988 when the shutters came down on the slaughter house depot for the last time

Killarney Fire Station on the busy bypass road

“The old station was just a glorified shed and we’re just thrilled to be gone from it,” he added.

The fire station on the bypass road – now in need of an upgrade itself – was formally opened by then Environment Minister, Padraig Flynn, on 11 February 1988.