Saturday 17th July 2021 Vol 001 Edition 00001
by Jim Campbell
Dublin Firefighter Caroline Gunning
Dublin Fire Brigade provides an integrated frontline Fire EMS and Rescue service for the City and County of Dublin, a region with a population of over 1.35 million and covering an area of 921.7km2. Approximately 1,111 people are employed with Dublin Fire Brigade. The majority of these are operational Firefighter/Paramedics or Officers.
Sub-Officer Caroline Gunning made her way through the Dublin rush hour traffic on route to North Strand Fire Station, to arrive there 45 minutes before the start of her shift. The reason for Caroline’s early arrival was an appointment with me to discuss the ‘Day in the Life of a Dublin Firefighter’.
On her arrival, we entered the station’s office upon my request to go somewhere quiet where there is no background noise. It is a medium-size office near the front of the building, comfortable and ideal for our conversation. Sitting at the desk, we wasted no time as Caroline had her fifteen-hour shift commencing at 6pm.
The Start of a Great Career
The Dublin Firefighter explained how she was a fitness instructor before entering the fire service, she was already fit and strong. Her dad happened to come across an advertisement looking for firefighters in Dublin
He mentioned it to his daughter that the job might be suitable for her. Caroline gave it a casual thought ‘yeah, ok’ and applied. She has not looked back since. In her 22nd year with the Dublin Fire Brigade, she is now a sub officer which is one level above the fire fighter.
Caroline’s 15-hour shift on that Wednesday evening is due to start at six and end at nine the following morning. The shift always commences with a parade; this is where the firefighters are given their duties for the night. North Strand Fire station has three different vehicles as well as two ambulances. Duties include cleaning, health, and safety checks, who is responsible for various elements and who is assigned to which vehicle. The equipment must be checked on all shifts, day and night. This is to make sure that it is always functional and operationally ready.
Paramedics as well as Firefighters
“We are unique in that we’re the only service that offers a fire-based EMS system. What that means, in ‘laypersons’ terms are that we are all paramedics as well as firefighters. And we provide the paramedics as well” explained Caroline. In Dublin, all Firefighters are dual trained as paramedics and rotate between emergency ambulance and fire duties. There are close to 100 Advanced Paramedics providing advanced pre-hospital care, regardless of what vehicle they are assigned to.
Training is a big part of their daily routine. Firefighters do drill every day and night. This includes a lot of e-learning as well, which has been invaluable in recent times. Because of COVID, there has been less face to face training so online learning modules were developed to ensure operational firefighter-paramedics were kept up to date with everything.
Firefighters Responding to the Bell
Throughout the shifts, 24/7, firefighters respond to the bell. Anything from extinguishing from small fires to the big fires which may involve other stations as well. Some of the duties carried out by our firefighters on their daily shifts include attend to Road Traffic Collisions (RTC), carry out water rescues in the canal, mitigate chemical spills and executed rescues.
These are just some of the duties carried out by our firefighters on their daily shifts. Daily checks are made in the tunnel which is situated in the North Strand Fire Station district. This requires constant observation and checks. There is a vehicle assigned to the tunnel. These services include rapid and effective response to fires and emergencies ‘including rescue and hazardous materials’ as well as fire prevention and community education.
Variety and the Community Element
When asked what she enjoyed about her job, Caroline liked the variety; “you never know what you what you are going to do next”. Also, the community element “we do a lot of stuff with kids. You would often get scheduled groups, or you get requests from everywhere. Like the kids can never get enough of those. And it does not cost us anything. So, we take great pleasure and go on to do all of that. But it is always subject to the bells going off”.
Prepare Yourself before you Apply
Caroline’s advice to anyone who is interested in joining the Dublin Fire Brigade is to prepare yourself before you apply. “So, you can do like EMT courses, the ‘Emergency Medical Technician’ courses, or ‘First Responder’ courses or things like that; that can stand to you for the interview and that you can speak about your experience in that respect. And, I think, like in coming into a job like this, it is just to try to be the most effective you can be, no matter who you are”.
Dublin Fire Brigade Motto:
Working to make Dublin a safer place to live, work and visit.
In my opinion, the real heroes in life are the firefighters and other rescue services who risk their lives daily saving others. Remember the photographs from 9/11 of the firefighters walking through the dust and rubble? Their faces said it all. This could have happened in any country.
My sincere thanks to Firefighter/Paramedic Ms Caroline Gunning; Dublin’s Chief Fire Officer Mr Denis Keeley; Ms Rosa Vickers, PA to Dublin’s Chief Fire Officer; Firefighter/Paramedic Mr Ray McMonagle; Ms Breda O’Sullivan, DDLETB for their help and contribution to this blog.
To apply to DFB : Web dublinfirebrigade.ie Tel: 00353 (0)1 2224000
@dublinfirebrigade on Twitter, Facebook and instagram
All Images and Original Text © 2021 Jim Campbell- All Rights Reserved
About the author
Jim Campbell is an Irish photographer, freelancer and photojournalist. Campbell has being contemporary photographer for more than two decades.
A native of Wexford town in the south-east of Ireland, Campbell studied photography in the Dublin Institute of Technology before going to work with a newspaper.
Since 1998 he has been working with local and national papers in Ireland and the UK. His work has appeared in publications globally including newspapers, magazines and online publications.
In 2013 Campbell made his first of what would become many trips to the conflict areas of the world. To observe more on Jim’s work vist the link to his website below.
Jim Campbell has been covering conflict areas since 2013. Check out his website www.warlens.co.uk