A FIREFIGHTER who has helped saved scores of lives in north Kerry was honoured for his long service this week with a national award.
Listowel native firefighter Joe Bunyan is the longest-serving member of the force in Listowel and one of the top three longest-serving members in the entire county.
It's a far cry from when he joined the Fire Brigade in the early 1980s as the youngest fireman in Kerry.
He adapted fast to the work and today is regarded as one of the most skilled in the service. "He is a model firefighter who has helped saved loads of lives over the decades, between car crashes, domestic and industrial fires with 100 per cent dedication to his work always," Listowel Chief Fire Officer Paul O'Sullivan said.
"Not only that, but Joe is a wonderful influence and example to the younger members because of his deep expertise and he is exceptionally popular as well."
His skills go far beyond simply battling fires however, as Joe is a qualified first responder and CISM facilitator. "Joe is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management, or CISM as we call it, which means that in the event of a particularly tough incident, God forbid, Joe will go along and talk to other members to help them manage their stress and reaction better.
"It makes a huge difference and helps people understand what they are going through on a deeper level."
It was little wonder then his colleagues helped him so whole-heartedly in celebratingthe Long Service Award for 30 years of putting his own life on the line for the good of others.