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Harold’s 29-year love affair with fire service

Friday, 11th January, 2019 7:05am

Story by Kieran O'Mahony
Harold’s 29-year love affair with fire service

Station officer Harold Atkinson hangs up his helmet for the final time after 29 years service in Bandon Fire Brigade. (Photo: Jonathan Tyner)

NOT having a beeper on him at all times is something that Harold Atkinson will have to get used to, following his retirement as Bandon Fire Brigade’s station officer after 29 years.

From attending severe floodings in Bandon down through the years, to the major fire at the Kinsale Rubber Factory in 2006, the 58-year-old has certainly attended his share of emergencies.

Even on his last week, Harold attended the building collapse on Oliver Plunkett St.

‘That was one of my last calls actually. It will take a while to adjust now – it was a way of life for 29 years. I was even searching for my bleeper the following morning after I retired,’ Harold told The Southern Star.

‘The lads in our team had a cake for me which was a big surprise and we are planning a proper send off in Copper Grove later this month. I will definitely miss the slagging from them but I will still be calling into them.’

Harold, who is originally from Crossbarry, joined Bandon Fire Brigade as a retained firefighter on Valentine’s Day in 1990 and he joked that it was ‘a love affair ever since.’ 

He then served as a driver and mechanic for 25 years before becoming station officer last January, following the retirement of Aidan Buckley.

‘It was a lifestyle where you must be ready to go the second the beeper goes off, drop what you’re doing and get to the fire station as quickly as possible. This even meant making sure my car was always parked in the right direction to get there fast,’ added Harold.

Harold, who works as a mason in Cork County Council, said that his wife Marretta is relieved that from now on they can go wherever they want, without worrying that the beeper will go off.

Cork County Fire Service also thanked Harold for his 29 years of service to his community and they wished him a long and happy retirement. John O’Connell is the new station officer for Bandon Fire Brigade.