Cork City Firefighters: A Proud Record. A Visual History from 1950.

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Pat Poland
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This is the final part in Pat Poland’s trilogy on the history of the Fire and Rescue services in his native Cork city. His previous books traced the shaky beginnings of the service back to the Great Fire of Cork in 1622 right up to the Emergency of 1939 -’45 and the frugal years of its aftermath, encountering, along the way, such epochal events as the infamous ‘Burning of Cork’ by Crown Forces in 1920 and the Fire Service response, using previously untapped sources.
This final part comprises an illustrated history of Cork City Fire Brigade from 1950 to the present and contains 240 colour and monochrome images of the Brigade at work, staff profiles and the appliances used. With glossy covers and produced on best-quality paper, it will appeal to the general public and those interested in local and social history. It will make an ideal gift for anyone connected with the ‘Blue Light’ services.


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Sold by: Pat Poland
Pat Poland served for over thirty years with Cork City Fire Brigade, having previously been a member of the voluntary Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS), a branch of Civil Defence, while still at school. His trilogy on the history of the Fire and Rescue services in his native city includes For Whom the Bells Tolled: A History of Cork Fire Services 1622 - 1900 (The History Press Ireland, 2010), The Old Brigade: The Rebel City's Firefighting Story 1900 - 1950 (Cork, 2018), and Cork City Firefighters: A Proud Record. A Visual History from 1950 (Cork, 2022). He holds an MA (Hons) from the School of History at UCC and is a regular contributor to publications such as the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, History Ireland, An Cosantóir, Ireland's Military Story, The Echo, The Holly Bough, Ireland's Eye, and Ireland's Own. He and his wife, Elaine, live in East Cork and have four grown-up sons.

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  1. Antoin O’Callaghan

    The much anticipated final volume in Pat Poland’s trilogy on the history of the Cork City Fire Service is superb. In this visual history dealing with the period from 1950 to the present day, the historian seamlessly weaves between dramatic accounts of some of the fiercest conflagrations that the fire–fighters faced; developments and advances in the equipment and appliances at their disposal and the training undertaken in preparation for the perils they would face. Throughout, the photographs, many never seen in the public domain before, as well as being a visual record of events, also disseminate information, adding to the written narrative that Pat Poland has crafted.

    Stories told in this history are filled with drama, excitement, humour, heroism and sadly, in many cases, tragedy. Fire-fighters have had to witness and suffer the loss of members of the public, both young and old, as well as their own comrades. The author himself knew while fighting the great fire in Scott’s of MacCurtain Street in February 1965, following a flash-over, that if he didn’t get out fast, he had only minutes to live. Ten years later Fireman Dick Beecher lost his life in a gas explosion as he searched a blazing Lee White House on Washington Street seeking to ensure that no one was left inside. Such was the intensity of the blaze at Suttons on the South Mall in 1963 that the tarmac beneath the feet of the fire-fighters started to melt. All forty fighters, the entire strength of the service, turned out in 1955 to fight the fire at the Cork Opera House and New York Fire Department Chief Peter Loftus commented that such a blaze in his city would have seen at least 200 personnel committed to the battle.

    In a timeline from 1950, a miscellany of episodes is illustrative of the wide cross-section of emergencies and call-outs the brigade encounters each and every day as well as the changing nature of what the fire-fighters face. Over 200 photographs illustrate every aspect of the brigade’s history in this period, not just images of spectacular fires, but also of the personnel, the appliances, sports and social events, charitable endeavours and so much more. But turn any page and see again the dangers faced by these women and men in their proud record of seeking to preserve life and property.

    Cork City Firefighters, A Proud Record is a wonderful addition to the corpus of work on Cork’s history and a superb finishing companion to For Whom the Bells Tolled and The Old Brigade, volumes 1 and 2 of the trilogy. We are all indebted to the author for his masterful work. Both as a fire-fighter and historian, Pat Poland too has a proud record.

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