AFTER more than 30 dedicated years working in the Fire Service, Omagh man Eamon McGrath has hung up his helmet for the last time.
Originally from Fintona, Eamon joined the NI Fire and Rescue Service back in April 1988 when they were recruiting personnel to join the new station opening in his local village. Although not a career path Eamon had ever thought of pursuing, he found the role “a perfect fit” and quickly began moving up the ranks.
Eamon qualified as a fire-fighter in 1990 and was stationed in Fintona for just over two months before moving to Derry. In 1994 he got promoted to lead fire-fighter in Lurgan and then to watch commander at the station.
But for Eamon the chance to be stationed closer to home and work is his native area was always very important to him.
Eventually, in 2001, he was delighted to move back to Tyrone after being offered the promotion of station commander in Omagh, and had been based there ever since.
During his time in Omagh, Eamon accomplished many things.
One defining moment was overseeing the transition from the small district fire station on the Mountjoy Road to the new modern headquarters on the Killybrack Road.
Looking back at his long and successful three decade career with the fire service, Eamon’s proudest moment was being promoted to District Commander in Omagh in 2012.
“This really was a highlight for me, it was a job I had always wanted,” he said.
“I was in charge of six stations, Omagh, Fintona, Dromore, Newtownstewart, Castlederg and Strabane and 115 personnel in total.”
It was the “love of the job” and the variety of the role which kept Eamon inspired throughout his 31 years in the service.
“You get a bit of everything, from office work, to being out helping people in the community. That was the nice thing about it, you were always helping people.
“Unfortunately, I have been witness to a lot of tragedy over the years, young people dying in road accidents, the Lammy fire in Omagh. Events like this are hard to take but in the majority of cases you’re out there doing good for people and helping them in their hour of need.
“That is very rewarding.”
Although sad to be leaving, Eamon made life-long friendships during his career and is now looking forward to “taking it easy for a while” and enjoying his retirement alongside his wife Lorna, who is a retired pharmacist.
“I think 30 years is plenty and it’s now time to de-stress,” he laughed.
Eamon wishes to thank all those who supported him over the years.
“When you have good people around you, you always make good decisions and get great help. You need a good team around you and I really had that. I would like to thank all the support I got from those in the part time stations in the area, and the district team, they were all great assistance to me and made my job easier.
“And to my wife Lorna, and children, Colm, Eimear, Orla and Ronan who have always been there for me and given me such great support throughout my career.”