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Fireman takes heat out of €26,000 station bill by cutting it to just €600

THIS is the man behind the world's first carbon neutral fire station and so far he's saved Dublin Fire Brigade €5m in energy efficiency.

Neil McCabe, a fireman in Kilbarrack station, has helped reduce the station's heating bill by 97.7pc through simple energy efficiency.

"I had this crazy idea 'What if this fire station was to become carbon neutral?'" he said. "And it just went from there."

In 2008, Kilbarrack lost half of its staff through cutbacks and morale was low. But Neil said he was determined to give his colleagues a fresh focus.

The firefighter said he knew nothing about energy efficiency or renewable energy, but started to look at ways they could become environmentally aware.

MOTIVATION

"We lost 50pc of the crew in Kilbarrack and motivation plummeted," he told the Herald.

"I hated seeing all the batteries being thrown out, so I put a box in the station saying 'put used batteries here'. So the whole story starts with batteries."

Mr McCabe obtained triple-glazed Irish-made high performance windows and insulated the building, installing solar panels as well.

Kilbarrack, the world's first carbon neutral fire station, now has a heating bill of €600, down from €26,861. His green plan saves it €48,000 a year.

This money is reinvested in other stations for the same purpose and provides new heating systems to "fuel poor" homes in their areas

Mr McCabe's plan also saves Kilbarrack 1.6m litres in water a year with a rain harvesting system he started with an old Smithwick's container. Three other fire stations have since been equipped with it.

As a result of his efforts, Dublin Fire Brigade teams up as an official partner of Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in a few weeks time. By last year, with all the savings, he had a kitty of €1.3m to revolutionise other stations and then the EU Commissioner for Climate Change came knocking.

"By her own request Ms Connie Hedegaard came to visit me to learn about my green plan,"he said.

The father-of-three's home has been transformed too, with a total annual energy bill of just €800, but he still can't afford solar panels.

Even though he works an 80-hour week everything aside from his fire-fighting shifts is pro bono.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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