How long have you worked for Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service?
I have worked for NIFRS for 23 years.
What roles have you held during your career with NIFRS?
I first started as a Recruit and I was trained on Station for 3 months, the training process was very different when I first joined, than it is today. I then did a Recruits course at Westland Fire Station in Belfast. I was known as Recruit Firefighter Barr for several years until the next batch of Recruits joined our Station.
I was also a Leading Firefighter for about 7 years until I became Sub-Officer in 1997, which is the same role I now hold but is known by the new title of Watch Commander.
How do you unwind off duty?
When I am off duty I enjoy socialising with my wife and friends. Most Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings in the summer, I like to play golf. I enjoy reading golf books, watching TV, going for walks with my dog and spending time with my family.
Outline what a typical day is like for you when you are available for fire calls?
As I am a Retained Watch Commander my “day job” is working in the family run business Stewart and Gibson in Ballynahinch and I work there 6 days a week.
If I receive a Fire Call when I am at work, I make my way straight to the Fire Station; the shop is very close to the Fire Station so I can be there within minutes. Otherwise my normal routine is to get on with my daily job of running and looking after the shop. I shut up shop at 5.30 pm.
At night I always make sure I am prepared for a call and ensure my car is reversed down the drive, just in case I receive a call during the night.
What do you enjoy most about working for Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service?
I enjoy the adrenaline rush when the pager goes off and attending calls. No two calls are the same. You never know what you could be going to, a chimney fire, a road traffic collision, a house fire or standby in another station. It could be anywhere from Ballynahinch to Newry or even Enniskillen. I have been to incidents all over Northern Ireland and at times, as part of our service level agreements with Republic of Ireland Fire and Rescue Services I have attended incidents along the border region.
I find working as part of a team very enjoyable and like the feeling of helping people in danger or need.