The excellent work of the Kilkenny Fire and Rescue Service in preventing and responding to emergencies is respected by all who live in Kilkenny.
Many will have noticed the facelift that the Kilkenny City Fire Station has received in the form of new Fire Appliance Bay doors. The motivation behind this and other changes has been the desire to improve the station both as a place to work but also to conserve energy and reduce emissions.
John Collins, Acting Chief Fire Officer explains the background: "The station was built in the 1950’s and was originally a station and a home to the Assistant Chief Fire Officer and his family. Extensions were added in the 1980’s and 1990’s and like in a lot of buildings of its time the heating and lighting were not what they could be. The boiler was old, working flat out and not heating the station properly. The lighting was poor and lights were nearly turned on all year round; there was no natural light in many areas.”
John has overseen a complete transformation of the work environment for himself and his colleagues. He explains the added, external, motivation: “Kilkenny Fire and Rescue Service has a responsibility to help meet the national target of 33% energy reduction for all Local Authorities to be achieved by 2020.” John and his colleague Ray Regan, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, identified the Better Energy Communities (BEC) programme run by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland as a good fit for their needs. All of the station’s energy saving improvements over the last 3 years have been grant aided under a BEC programme co-ordinated by Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency (CKEA).
An energy efficient boiler was installed which, combined with the replacement of single glazed windows and doors with thermally efficient counterparts, has generated significant energy savings. The shining new automatic Appliance Bay Doors offer a superior level of airtightness. Less visible are the newly installed solar photovoltaic panels on the roof which will meet some if not all of the energy needs of the station. There are other lower tech measures which increase the comfort of the fire and rescue staff such as the clothes drying system which dries the fire fighting clothing from the inside out and the newly placed roof lights reducing the need for artificial light.
John Collins admits that the BEC programme has tight deadlines and stringent standards but is enthusiastic about the outcomes, including verified savings on energy costs. But it is the impact on the Fire and Rescue team which he really notices: “One of the many differences is in the attitudes of the personnel working in Kilkenny City Fire Station, everyone now is cognisant of the fact that energy reduction is a large part of our lives in work and at home. Not only is the station looking better and working better, there is improved morale and a sense of ownership and pride in our Station.”