Over the past 20 years, chief fire officer for Waterford city, Tony Gleeson, has seen more than his share of tragedy. However, he left the post on Friday, reflecting on the positives of the job and confident the service has moved with the rapidly-changing times.
He leaves the post to pursue interests in the private sector, drawing and building on his experience.
The west Cork man, originally from Castletownsend, came to Waterford having worked as a design engineer and project manager with IDA Ireland. His work with the fire service involved major development of the service locally, the promotion of safety and training nationally, and an involvement in a unified approach to standards across Europe.
Over the past 20 years, he’s seen much positive change. While the job has its tough days, the 56-year-old prefers to reflect on the good times.
“The fire service has improved substantially over the years; training, equipment and procedures have all been boosted. We are also more focused on rescue situations, as well as fire prevention,” he said.
Tony Gleeson has also overseen the introduction of modern training and safety systems and the introduction of state-of-the-art mobilisation and communications systems.
Other accomplishments during his tenure have been the setting up of a full-time four shift service, the recently extended station accommodation facilities and enhanced fire safety/building control programmes.
He has been on countless school visits to promote all aspects of fire safety issues. Up to the end of last year, he was a member of the Fire Safety Committee of the National Safety Council.
On the international stage, he has been the Chief Fire Officers Association representative on the Federation of European Fire Officers Associations.
To enhance emergency services, Tony Gleeson recommends a water rescue service which operates in participation with the fire service.
As to the future Mr Gleeson plans to remain in his adopted Waterford, as he embarks on the next phase of life in a new career.