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Posts Tagged ‘Fire Brigade’

Right… Before we get anyone on mumbling about “waste of tax payers money… etc,” we really didn’t expect what happened to happen… The following is the work of DMcHugh, and is a quick anecdote about what happened last Friday. My additions are in italics!

Yes, a fire engine just like this

Feet are shit. They’re slow, they’re tender and if they pick up even a slight injury and then you’re stranded; marooned. Which is why I love my bike. Not in the ostentatious, fixed gear and no brakes way, but as an indispensable part of my life. So when I don’t have my bike, because of puncture or more serious damage, I’m pretty upset. But I wouldn’t call it an emergency. And I definitely wouldn’t expect anyone else to to call it that either. But that’s what happened on Friday night…

It was a crap lock. A 30 euro one I got because it looked tough and was cheaper than most. But like so many other locks, the real catch is the lock itself- does it jam, does it twist, does it break the key off? Which is exactly what happened. A few beers and a night in the cold left my patience thin and the metal sluggish. hXci’s patience was
thinner still and he took the keys off me, to loose the bloody thing. The keys came back but the lock stayed put, half the key stuck in there, and my bike was left to wait out the cold night on its own.

Before and after work, we plied it with pliers and pared away two hacksaw blades, transforming them into toothless breadknives, but it was stubborn, not moved by clumsy grabs or sharp words. A tip from Google Buzz (thanks Andrew!) had suggested the fire brigade, and I called them up. They didn’t just cut it for me, (we expected one man in a jeep to show up with a pair of boltcutters;) they sent a whole bloody fire-engine along, flashing siren and stocked with four big fellas and all manners of equipment. They cut the thing there and then, hopped back into the wagon and chased off into the sunset, off to do proper fireman work, or maybe just back to the station for a cup of tea.

So hot tip, buy a proper lock, with a solid mechanism and strong keys. And should the worst happen anyway, you can ring the fire department office to come and rescue you, if you can live with the embarassment and the joke (I-hope-it’s-a-joke-) 500 yos call out charge.

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Dublin firefighters inspect the General Post Office, from \’The Dublin Fire Brigade\’ (2004,Dublin City Council Press)

Recently, I spent painful hours online attempting to track down information on the Guinness Fire Brigade, but it was a hard task! Bass, Powers and Guinness all operated functional (and branded) fire services in their respective workplaces due to the nature of production and the risk posed. My interest in the men of what was branded the ‘Arthur Guinness and Sons’ Fire Brigade, centres around the events of Easter week 1916, but is by no means limited to that week alone.

Guinness, along with Powers Distillery , were both called out by Captain Purcell of the Dublin Fire Brigade during the 1916 insurrection to assist the city Brigade, who, along with Pembroke and Rathmines firefighters, found themselves working against the odds.

The Irish Times Focus on 1916 gives some extent of the damage caused to the city during the uprising

Fire had raged from the GPO towards the Liffey, reaching back along Henry Street to Henry Place and Moore Street, advancing towards Liffey Street, almost as far as the Irish Independent’s printing works on Middle Abbey Street. On the Sackville Street frontage, the Metropole Hotel, standing between Eason and the GPO, was gone, and with it adjoining buildings including the Oval bar. Thom’s printing works was destroyed.

On the Saturday night, well into the uprising that had, in the words of Captain Purcell, done at least £2.5 Million worth of damage to the streets of Dublin, it became apparent that there was a very real threat Jervis Hospital was going to burn to the ground. Purcell called on the fire brigades of Guinness Brewery and Powers to assist his Brigade. Occasionally under fire, they worked heroically and ensured the safety of the hospital.

Dublin Fire Brigade,1916 period standard. Las Fallon collection.

Little is known about the Guinness Fire Brigade in so far as a date of formation. Their exploits during Easter Week are documented in so far as possible in Tom Geraghty and Trevor Whiteheads ‘The Dublin Fire Brigade’ published by Dublin City Council in 2004 and an essential read for all interested in the history of the city. Yet they were a different Brigade, seperate from the Dublin Fire Brigade entirely. Thus, they have remained somewhat of a mystery.

Firefighters training at the site of what is now the Guinness Storehouse attraction

Some interesting insight can be gained into life for the Brewery fire and rescue squads from Edward J. Burkes recent The Guinness Story: The Family, The Business, The Black Stuff (O’ Brien Press, 2009) The book also provides information on the companies support for the repression of the Easter Rising, which makes for interesting reading in itself (for example a company of Dublin Fusilers were allowed set up in the Robert Street grainstore, and Guinness Daimler trucks topped with railway engine smoke boxes were a popular mode of transport and defensive/offensive tool for British forces)

Guinness firefighters, around the 1950s. Notice the \’AGS\’ branding of helmets.

From Burkes book, we can gather information of a fire at the Guinness Brewery in 1820, as reported in the Freemans Journal. All breweries and distillers in the area operated a fire-service (No surprise due to the highly flamable nature of the work) and all, along with the insurance companies of the area, helped to ensure no extensive damage occured.

One can only be reminded of recent events and the fire in the Guinness complex when they read the company press-statement which boasted…

“….the damage done is not very extensive, nor of such a nature as to stop the business of the brewery even for a day”

Brewery Fire Brigade piece.

The Guinness Fire Brigade in the 1930s.

The Guinness Fire Brigade in the 1930s.

To many people,the Guinness fire-helmets are the most exciting part of the story. Below, I’ve included some snaps of Guinness helmets over the years, from the time of the Rising up until the mid 1900s. AGS, of course, stands for Arthur Guinness and Sons.

A patch from near the end of the Brewery Brigades lifetime. Las Fallon collection.

Guinness has long been a powerhouse of Dublin life, employing thousands of working class people in this city through boom and bust alike, but this is certainly an overlooked aspect of the story. The men of the Brewery Brigade, perhaps more than anyone else, show there was,and indeed remains, much more than stout at the heart of Saint James’ Gate.

\’Arthur Guinness and Sons\’ early helmet. Las Fallon collection

Helmet from mid-century period, again branded \’AGS\’ Las Fallon collection

My thanks to the lads at the contemporary Guinness Fire and Rescue Service for getting in touch. This image shows the modern service Guinness operate on site.

Credit to D.Doyle for photograph

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