Last call-out for fireman John
After nearly 27 years and countless fires and other incidents responded to, Bunclody Fire Service bid a fond farewell to one of its longest serving members last week as John Masterson called time on a long career on the fire brigade.
John's retirement follows the retirement of his colleague Anthony Nolan from the Enniscorthy Station and the pair would have responded to countless incidents together over the years. 'It's funny, I was reading the piece on Anthony's retirement, and the big incidents which he recalled were the ones which stuck out in my mind as well,' said John.
'You had the Murphy Floods Fire in Enniscorthy, the huge fire at Slaney Meats and then there was another incident around '04 or '05 where half the town burnt down here in Bunclody. Three to four shops and a pub went up in flames along the area where Spar is now.
'That was a massive one and it took a long time for us to bring it under control.'
Similarly, John has seen massive changes to the fire service in Bunclody over the years to.
'I remember starting out from a shed at the back of Meadowlands with just six of us,' he said. 'We had no running water, no nothing. Then we got updated and we moved and thought it was the Gresham Hotel at the time! We had shower units, facilities for making a cup of tea, lockers. It was major. The equipment has come on an awful lot too. These days its second to none and they update it all the time.'
While constantly being on call in case of an emergency can be difficult, John says it also takes its toll on families.
'When you join the fire service, the whole family joins the fire service,' he said. 'You're always on call; everything needs to be planned out in advance; you always need to have cover. A lot of lads starting out now, I don't think they realise what's involved. We had good times and bad, but through the service I made great friends all over the country.'
John says the service is a real team effort and he wished to thank everyone he has served with over the years.
'You'd come across some rough things over the years as well,' he said. 'Now there's counselling available and there's a full debrief, but everyone in the station has their own things they're good at. Some lads will be better at fires, other at road accidents, others on the medical side of things. It's a real team effort and there's great camaraderie among us all. I'll miss the craic with the lads and I'll still take a great interest. I'm only starting to get used to it now.
'Usually, I'd have the alerter on the locker when I go to bed or on me at all times and you'd have a change of clothes and that ready in case you got the call. I'll be able to relax a little bit now. I'll know that when I get into the bed at night, I'll get a night's sleep!'