Chief's Blog

NI Fire & Rescue Service

Island Life

Island Life

Category: Uncategorised    Date: 8th March 2018       

A few weeks ago I was on Rathlin Island to officially handover to the island’s Volunteer Firefighters their new bespoke Fire Appliance.   In all the years of having a fire service presence on Rathlin this is the first time that we have designed and built an appliance taking into account the specific risks, geography and terrain of the island. At £250k, it is part of our ongoing fleet replacement strategy to replace older fire appliances with new higher spec appliances.

Rathlin is unique as our only island community – with a population of approximately 150 people it has a local primary school, supports local jobs and attracts many visitors each year. Currently there are 8 Volunteer Firefighters on the Island and we hope this number will increase following the completion of the recent recruitment exercise.

Although the number of incidents attended by Rathlin Fire Station each year is low, as an island community there is a significant risk if a serious fire, road traffic collision or other emergency incident were to occur on the island. It would naturally take longer for additional resources to be transported over to the island and therefore it is essential that we equip our Volunteer Firefighters with the appropriate appliance and equipment to respond to incidents.


Having served in Northern Area Command for a number of years, I have visited Rathlin many times and got to know the local Firefighters. Visiting again recently, I was immediately reminded of that unique sense of community that exists on Rathlin. I could see the pride the Firefighters and the local community had in their new Fire Appliance. The local community association, Rathlin primary school and the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Joan Baird, all attended the event to mark this significant occasion in the Island’s history.

That sense of community spirit and looking out for your neighbour is quite literal on Rathlin, where everyone appreciates the advantages and challenges of island life. The people of Rathlin are known for their resilience and our Firefighters typify this community spirit by giving back to their local community and are ready to respond when needed.

The Rathlin Volunteer Firefighters are right to be proud of the service they provide to their local community and to visitors on the island. It was clear to see the appreciation that the local community has for them and for the support they receive from NIFRS – at Area/District level by attending drill nights and ongoing support and at the wider organisational level for this bespoke Appliance.


The warm welcome we received was greatly appreciated by myself and Ken Henning, Vice-Chair of our Board and the rest of the team who went over to Rathlin. Thanks to Ian Grimes and the Fleet, Engineering & Supplies team and everyone involved in the fleet replacement strategy from Area, District, Finance and Procurement – it takes the combined efforts of all involved to make change happen and everyone has played their part in helping ensure both public and Firefighter safety through the delivery of this new Appliance. I would like to thank the Rathlin community for their support and our Rathlin Volunteer Firefighters for their unwavering dedication to serving their local community and for representing the best traditions of the fire and rescue service.

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