On the evening of the 20th September 1985, Mr. Joe Stapleton was completing his duties as the Town Sergeant when he discovered a fire on the upper floor of the City Hall. Mr. Stapleton's first reaction was to go downstairs and alert the fire service, he also opened the main gates to allow the firemen easy access. He then ran back upstairs and went into the Council Chamber where he got the 17th Century charters of the City and brought them to safety. Mr. Stapleton was a member of the fire service at the time and his knowledge of fires paid off.
The Snorkel and the Water Tender
Flames explode from the clocks at City Hall
At 18:25 hours a call was received in the watchroom at Kilkenny City Fire Station by phone duty officer Mr. Pat Slattery stating that the City Hall was on fire. Mr. Slattery then alerted the crews.
At 18:27 hours the water tender left the station with Mr. G. Duffy (Driver), Mr. T. Lacey, Mr. M. Kavanagh, Mr. D. Duffy and Mr. M. Cleere.
At 18:28 the snorkel left with J. Kennedy (Station Officer), K. Howley, T. Comerford and J. Barry.
At this time Mr. Joe Stapleton was in attendance as fireman at the scene of the fire. At 18:33 the jeep left with Mr. P. Doyle, M. Rowe, J. Ayres and M. Kavanagh. Also at 18:33 the E.T. left with J. Walton (Sub Officer), J. Traynor and A. Kavanagh.
When Station Officer, Mr. J. Kennedy arrived at the fire and assessed the situation he saw that it was a major fire. He requested assistance from Callan and Freshford. The Fire Chief was also notified and was at the scene within minutes. He then took charge of the operation. As the fire was so large and the water demand so big the hydrants could not supply all the water necessary.
When Freshford arrived they were sent down to the bank of the River Nore to pump water back up to the scene. By this time the fire had engulfed the clock tower and the snorkel was playing an important, role in stopping the fire from spreading to nearby buildings. Meanwhile four firemen wearing Breathing Apparatus were fighting the fire from the top floor offices. These firemen were: J. Traynor, M. Kavanagh, P. Doyle and T. Comerford. These firemen were in constant radio contact with Station Officer J. Kennedy on the ground floor. Station Officer J. Kennedy was also in constant radio contact with T. Lacey and M. Cleere in the cage of the snorkel.
The fire was brought under control at about 19:15 hours. Then started the long job of searching for small pockets of fire and clearing away burned out debris. The fire crews returned to the station and were dismissed at 01:20. It took 35 firemen and six fire engines to fight this fire.
Fighting the fire in City Hall
Spraying the roof
A close up of the clocks ablaze at City Hall
The final stages of the fire
Other Matters Arising in 1985
The jeep which was talked about earlier was a new Toyota Land Cruiser bought in early 1985. The Land-Rover went to Graiguenamanagh Fire Brigade.
Around the same time Mr. Willie Doyle returned to Waterford City as Assistant Fire Chief. In late 1985 Mr. C. Cormican was appointed Assistant Fire Chief for Kilkenny City and County.