Ballymoney support ‘amazing’, says NI Fire Chief

‘Overwhelmed’.

That was the word used by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Commander to describe the support his crews received from the people and businesses of Ballymoney during last week’s major incident.

Almost 150 firefighters were involved in the operation to bring the huge blaze at the former Fleming Poultry premises on the Ballymena Road under control last Monday.

NIFRS Area Commander Brian Stanfield spoke to the Coleraine and Ballymoney Times to personally acknowledge the help given to the fire personnel during the incident.

NIFRS Area Commander Brian Stanfield

“We were overwhelmed by the support from the community and businesses in Ballymoney towards firefighters from across Northern Ireland who responded to this major incident,” he said.

“This would not have been possible without the commitment of our full-time and on-call firefighters.

“NIFRS has 900 on-call staff who give a huge commitment to their communities but this would not be possible without the support of employers who release them to attend incidents like this.”

25 appliances from as far away as Portadown, Omagh and Clougher attended the incident with AC Stanfield added: “This is testament to how much employers support our communities in their time of need.”

He also paid particular tribute to the people of Ballymoney who thanked firefighters for their efforts.

“However we would like to thank the public of Ballymoney for complying with our directions, staying away from the area, keeping windows closed and keeping themselves safe. This was really important and we appreciate it.”

Local businesses kept the firefighters fed and refreshed during the marathon operation.

“The generosity shown to our firefighters while they were carrying out operations was fantastic. They kept us fed and refreshed and we really appreciate it.”

AC Stanfield also highlighted the practical support shown by one Ballymoney firm which assisted the crews in keeping equipment safe and keeping access to local businesses open.

Explaining that the crews were using high powered firehoses which are around 12 inches in height, AC Stanfield said that a local engineering firm stepped into make ramps to protect the hoses and to allow vehicles access to the area.

“Those hoses are 12 inches high so you can’t drive over them, the ramps meant that not only are the hoses protected but they allowed vehicles to drive over them allowing access to other premises.”

Describing the entire operation as being “very well managed”, AC Stanfield praised the professionalism of the Ballymoney NIFRS crew who first attended the scene.

The Area Commander also took the opportunity to reinforce the NIFRS Christmas message of STOP fire: S stands for smoke alarm; T stands for test the alarm regularly; O stands for Obvious dangers such as overloaded sockets, naked flames and P which stands for plan an escape route in the event of a fire.

Area Commander Stanfield said: “Following this advice will create a safer Christmas for us as firefighters and for the general public.”