Firefighters on the Frontline
Until Northern Ireland spiralled into mayhem after the explosive summer of 1969, Northern Ireland’s firefighters did the same job as any other fire service - days of relative inactivity interspersed with house fires, road crashes and the occasional factory fire.
In the space of a few months, the service went from this typical fire-fighting life to the most extreme experience in Western Europe since World War Two. During the subsequent conflict they responded to many thousands of incidents. Fires caused by incendiaries gutted shops and factories, while bomb attacks on pubs, hotels and police stations brought death and misery on a horrendous scale. It was an intensity of experience rarely encountered outside of a full-scale war zone.