‘It took us five hard years to build this unit up, and now it’s all gone, destroyed. We’re all totally devastated.’ Ray Regan, Civil Defence Officer in Kilkenny describing the mood this afternoon following a fire which gutted the storage unit and base station of the City & County’s Civil Defence organisation.
The fire was discovered shortly after 9.30am in the Purcellsinch Business Park on the outskirts of Kilkenny City.
The premises suffered extensive damage as a result of the fire. Two other businesses were also damaged by the fire. The block of premises was evacuated as fire fighters from Kilkenny City and Kilkenny County were being alerted to the blaze.
Fire Brigade Response
Fire Brigade units from Kilkenny City (KK11), Freshford (KK13), Thomastown (KK15) and Callan (KK16) stations attended the incident while further assistance was sought from Carlow Town (CW11) with their Hydraulic Platform. According to a senior fire officer, the fire was quickly brought under control and the fire was extinguished within approximately two hours.
Photo: (John Keane – KCLR96fm)
However, it appears the rear of the building suffered the majority of fire damage. Two businesses alongside the civil defence unit were also damaged. Fire-fighters managed to salvage vital documents and files from the premises.
(All Photos: Declan Keogh)
A huge loss to the community of Kilkenny
Among the many items destroyed in the fire were three jeeps, four boats, an ambulance, a rescue van and a minibus. Speaking to Emergency Times at the scene today, CDO Ray Regan said the loss to the local organisation and community is huge and may take a lot to restore. “We’ve been here for five years. We had all our gear in it, all of our vehicles, boats, rescue equipment, our clothing and communication equipment was stored in the unit. This is a huge loss to us personally, but it’s also a huge loss to the people and community of Kilkenny. It took us five hard years to build this unit up, and now it’s all gone, destroyed. We’re all totally devastated.”
Kilkenny Civil Defence has a strong involvement in the community and with up to sixty members locally, it’s a busy organisation, particularly on the county’s rivers, and with winter approaching it is likely to get even busier. Recently fifteen volunteer members of the civil defence assisted Gardai in searching for a missing person while more recently, nine members of the civil defence boat crews mobilised within 15 minutes of being alerted by the Eastern Regional Control Centre in Dublin, following reports to the Irish Coast Guard that a person was seen entering the River Nore in the city.
The unit works closely with the local gardai and Sub Aqua club and it also shares the river barrow with the civil defence in their neighboring county of Carlow. “Carlow Civil Defence and the local Sub-Aqua club in Kilkenny, who we work very well with, may be called out for river related incidents to assist in the interim, while we try and get back on our feet again, which we hope won’t be too long.”
The Civil Defence Officer is anxious to get the unit back up and running, but he says it will be a hard task and has said the support both he and his members have received has been wonderful. Throughout the day, Mr. Regan received calls from his counterparts across Ireland and the national Civil Defence branch in Roscrea, all offering their support and any assistance or facilities they can.
“I’ve been contacted by the vast majority of CDO’s in Ireland, offering any equipment, vehicles or facilities they can to get us through the next short while in the event of any kind of an incident or rescue which we may be called out to in the interim. I want to thank all of them for their support, response and quick action. It’s been wonderful. Thankfully nobody was injured and everything can be replaced” he said.
Support has been ‘overwhelming’
This is a sentiment shared by the national branch in Roscrea. Civil Defence Press Officer John Fitzpatrick spoke to EmergencyTimes.com this evening and said the support being offered to Kilkenny following the fire has been ‘overwhelming’. “Offaly Civil Defence led the support and have already committed a number of vehicles to Kilkenny for the short term while other counties are also providing assistance where possible, in particular from the neighbouring counties of Carlow, Tipperary and Waterford. The support and provision of services being offered to our colleagues in Kilkenny from the CDO’s and volunteers across the country following this morning’s fire at their unit has been overwhelming” he said.
The Civil Defence declined however to comment on the fire itself but the spokesperson confirmed to Emergency Times that Stephen Hall, Principal Officer and the associated management team from the branch are due to visit the scene of the fire tomorrow morning. “It’s early days in terms of assessing what happened and the cause of the fire but the Principal Officer and associated management team will visit the site tomorrow to assess the situation and ascertain what can be done and any support that can be given will be given to Kilkenny.”
“Kilkenny Civil Defence have been very active in the last two winters, in particular with river searches, rescues and recovery’s along the River Barrow in Kilkenny and the River Nore further down to Thomastown and that’s been a huge element of their work in the last few years and in that regard it is a priority of the Civil Defence College to provide some immediate boats and material in the very short term.”
A planned recruitment of 15 additional members which was due to take place before Christmas may now not go ahead until the new-year at the earliest.