Laois County Fire and Rescue Service recently held agricultural machinery rescue training sessions with crews across the county as the busy silage season beckons.
Speaking to Agriland about the training – which saw firefighters get a thorough understanding of farming machinery and its workings – Anthony Tynan of Laois County Fire and Rescue Service outlined how the training came about:
“We’re very lucky; we’ve got at least two farm contractors who work in the fire brigade.
One of them, Martin Shortall, made his yard and fleet available to us for the last couple of weeks to work with. Martin is both a firefighter and a farmer as well, so he’s got a very interesting take on this.
Thanking Martin for providing his facilities to the service to train, Anthony continued, explaining:
“Historically, as a rural county, Laois would have had a lot of farmers in it but as time moves on that portion is decreasing, so we probably only have an average of one farmer per crew – and some crews with no farmers in them.
“So we felt it was very important to do this across the county and give all stations the same input for training.
“We can bring people from a rescue background and from a farming background into the conversation. Some people would be farm mechanics as well in different stations so we have got some great information. The key in this was to bring it all together and then spread it out around the county.”
Asked whether the county service is called up much for farming related incidents, Anthony said: “It’s not a regular call at present; there have been a number of tragedies around the county over the years and it’s something that happens.
It’s not a regular call – but the problem is that when it does happen we have to be ready to respond.
“In the next couple of weeks the season kicks off and it will be full tilt then for a few months.
“What we were doing in the sessions is getting familiar with the equipment – showing the different types of balers, round and square balers, combines, muck spreaders – all the different machines people are dealing with,” the firefighter explained, adding that PTOs and how to turn off tractors and make them safe were also covered.
“This is about building awareness and building knowledge. Hopefully lads will never have to put it into practice – but the possibility is there,” he added.
Interested in being a firefighter?
On a related note, Anthony added that Laois County Fire and Rescue Service is currently recruiting firefighters for Portarlington, Rathdowney, Durrow and Abbeyleix fire stations.
“We’re recruiting retained firefighters in four stations in the county currently,” he said.
“We’re encouraging the likes of farmers to consider applying; we’ve had a couple of recruits later who are farmers who have been able to make the two jobs work together.
“In the farming community you’re talking about a people who can bring a lot of skills to the table; a lot of knowledge and experience.
“There’s a decent income to be made; a retained firefighter is a paid position. It could suit some people to do it. Someone in a smaller farm situation might feel it’s a good fit for their situation.
“It depends on what sort of farming you’re doing obviously; if you’re milking 200 cows in the morning it mightn’t be a great time to get a fire call! But different people find it suits them in different ways.
“Over the years we’ve had great service from a number of farmers who have joined and have done very well in it,” Anthony concluded.