Funding allocated for new fire brigade training centre in Hacketstown

The December meeting of Carlow County Council heard that a grant aid of €442,335 was allocated for the new fire brigade training centre in Hacketstown, Co Carlow.

Planning for the new training centre was approved in 2016, and the new centre will include a lecture theatre for 20 people and specialist facilities. Planning and design for the new centre was undertaken in-house by fire service personnel, at Carlow County Fire & Rescue Service.

Carlow County Fire & Rescue Headquarters, Carlow Town
Photo: Declan Keogh /

Carlow’s Acting Chief Fire Officer has confirmed to Emergency Times that additional funding will be made available over the next three years to facilitate alterations to populate the site of the new Training and Development Centre at Hacketstown Fire Station with a number of modular buildings incorporating real live fires over the next 3 years to include alterations to existing domestic house to include scenarios for implementing real life tactical fire-fighting, with natural and forced ventilation procedures for the above types of training  courses.

A 2-bay auto repair garage and a service station/garage forecourt complete with associated fuel dispensing units, canopy and associated shop and facilities. These features would give Hacketstown Training centre the scope for a whole range of common fire types in different scenarios using live fires in different building types.

Hacketstown is the only fire brigade training center which can offer this facility for fire fighter and officer training and development.

Pic: (SO Jamie Myler gives order to the new recruits at Hacketstown Training Centre)
Photo: Thomas Nolan

The new centre will cater for 20 students, which is in-line with the new QQI accreditation for recruit firefighters which means a centre must be able to cater for 20 students to include separate male and female facilities in order for that centre to qualify to deliver QQI approved courses, hence the requirement for changing, shower and drying facilities in the new building.

The overall design, which included proposals and concepts were undertaken in-house by fire service personnel before the final stages were sent to the Dept. Of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government for approval.

Pic: (Hacketstown Fire Station. Inset: Act/ACFO Alan O’ Neill)
Main Pic:

Under the National Directorate for Fire  & emergency  Management, the overall plan for the centre is to make provision for four training aspects: Breathing Apparatus (BA), Compartment Fire Behaviour Training (CFBT), Tactical Positive Pressure Ventilation raining (OOV)  and tactical fire-fighting courses.

While all the councillors welcomed the allocation, some councillors suggested naming the new Fire Brigade training centre after a local person. Elvis Presley was one name mentioned by Fine Gael councillor Brian O’ Donoghue, however on reflection, he said ‘I won’t say the ‘Elvis Fire Station’, but mentioned other well-known locals.

So how does Elvis’s name get in the hat of the suggested names for Hacketstown Fire Station? In 2014 it was discovered that Elvis Presley’s ancestors hailed from Hacketstown, County Carlow with records indicating that his great-great-great-grandfather William, along with his brother Andrew Presley, originated from Eagle Hill, Hacketstown in the 18th century. Since the discovery, the people of Hacketstown have been celebrating the King with an Elvis themed weekend festival in October.

Responding to councillors about the grant aid for the new training centre, Carlow County Council’s Director of Services Seamus O’ Connor welcomed the funds and praised the fire service staff for the work that had gone into the proposals and the project for the training centre. He said ‘All planning design has been done in-house’ under Acting Chief Fire Officer Alan O’ Neill. In response to the council’s suggestions to name the Hacketstown training centre, Mr. O’ Connor said, ‘I have never heard any fire station being named’.

With regard to the naming of the new centre, Act./CFO Alan O’ Neill said ‘this was merely brought from a number of comments made by a few councillors at the December meeting and was only in connection with the training centre and not the actual fire station or fire brigade. ‘Hacketstown is Hacketstown’ and that is what it has always been known as throughout the country for delivering quality fire-fighter BA & CFBT training since retired Assistant Chief Fire Officer Fintan O’ Neill had a vision for a training centre and started its development some 15 years ago in 2002.

Hacketstown Fire Station during local ‘Elvis Festival’
Photo: Declan Keogh /

Sinn Fein Councillor John Cassin concluded that it was great news for the town and county and it only proves that Carlow had the best fire brigade in the Country.

In July of 2016, the local fire service in Hacketstown, along with Community First Responders and personnel from the National Ambulance Service were praised for their quick action in saving a man’s life on the street in the town. See Related Story

Pic: Hacketstown Fire, CFR and Ambulance crews after successful rescue.