The new Freshford Fire Station was opened officially by Councillor William Ireland, Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Reverend Dean Norman Lynas, Reverend Canon Henry, Director of Service John Mulholland, Chief Fire Officer Ciaran Cormican and Freshford Station Officer Frankie Brennan on 21st June 2007.
This new fire station facility, built for Freshford Fire brigade at a cost of almost €1,000,000, is the latest of a number of fire station developments which have been progressed by Kilkenny County Council in recent times. A new fire Station was built at Callan in 2004 and a new Fire Station in Castlecomer, approved under the 2007 Fire Services Capital Programme is currently being advanced through planning stages.
The old station in Freshford had been in operation for over 50 years and was unable to cope with the demands of a modern fire and rescue service. The new facility provides for a two-bay station with ancillary accommodation Drill Tower, Training Yard and other facilities.
Freshford Fire Brigade's response area consists of approximately 160 square kilometres and has a population of roughly 7,000 according to the 2006 Census. The number of call outs is increasing steadily reaching 153 in 2006, covering mainly fires and road traffic collisions (RTC's).
The existence of a professional fire rescue service is fundamental to public and personal safety. Continuing professional development and public awareness initiatives are extremely important in this regard and are being advanced under the national Fire Services Change Programme.
The whole thrust of the Programme is about trying to enhance the levels of protection for people and property. The majority of fire deaths continue to occur in domestic premises and a few simple spot-checks carried out on a regular basis, in particular the installation and checking of smoke alarms, will help prevent the devastation caused to people and property by fire.
It is important to spread the fire safety message in our communities, particularly to our elderly neighbours and I am happy to report that good progress has been made on community Fire Safety issues. In this regard Kilkenny County Council is encouraging people to ensure they fit and maintain a working smoke alarm in their home. This involves a shift in focus from the traditional response role to prevention and mitigation.
Kilkenny County Council Fire & Rescue Service in early May 2007 launched its new schools fire safety awareness programme. It is heartening to observe that all third class pupils in every school throughout the county will have received the programme by the end of the year and we would like to compliment the officers of Kilkenny Fire Rescue Service for their hard work and commitment in this important area.
We should note and congratulating all associated with the provision of the new fire station here in Freshford particularly the Contractors - Castle Construction and Designers - Kenny Keane Architects & Engineers Hayes Higgins & Partners.