End of watch: Limerick fireman Greg Costelloe retires after 31-year career

David Hurley


David Hurley

Greg Costelloe retired from Limerick Fire and Rescue service on Sunday following a 31-year career Picture: Adrian Butler

Greg Costelloe retired from Limerick Fire and Rescue service on Sunday following a 31-year career Picture: Adrian Butler

ONE of Limerick’s longest-serving firemen retired this week following more than 30 years of dedicated service.

Greg Costelloe, completed his final shift with the White Watch shift at Limerick Fire Station, Mulgrave Street on Sunday afternoon – a day before his 55th Birthday.

Married with three children and three grandchildren, Greg joined Limerick Fire and Rescue service in 1986 just two months after his wedding.

“I never thought about it (being a fireman) growing up and it was my mother who actually said to me they are advertising for jobs at the fire station would you apply? So I said fair enough and I applied,” he said.

Greg recalls that at the time there were no pre-entry requirements other than being a minimum weight and height.

Having attended at interview Greg was initially told by letter that he had been unsuccessful in his application only to receive a phone call a number of weeks later offering him the job if he was still interested.

He was promoted to the position of Station Sub Officer in 1999 – a role which he retained for the remainder of his career.

“It’s a strange job, no two days are the same – never. Having said that there are some real tough times but thankfully, they are not as frequent as you would imagine,” he said pointing out that firemen and women are not superheroes.

”Some people might have a difficulty with a car crash, other people might have a difficulty with a river rescue, other people might have a difficulty with fires – nobody is perfect,” he said.

Greg witnessed a lot of change during his career with Limerick Fire and Rescue and he played a major role in ensuring there was proper investment by the local authority in the equipment required to carry out river rescues.

“When a call for a river rescue comes in, it sets the heart racing. You could get a call to a house fire and there might be nobody in the house, you could get called to a car crash but there might be nobody trapped but with 80% of river incidents, you know you are going to have to rescue somebody,” said Greg who carried out two river rescues during his early career using just a climbing harness and a rope tied around his waist.

“Both times it was bitterly cold and I just went in with a T-shirt and pants because I took off the heavy stuff,” he said adding that he and his now former colleagues are very proud of their record when it comes to dealing with river incidents in the city.

“We have different turnout times for fires and car crashes but if we get a call for a river rescue we can leave and be on the water in three minutes and guys are very proud of that fact because at the end of the day it does make a big difference because the duration of survival in the water is shorter than anything else,” he said.

While there were some standout moments as well as some lows during  his career, Greg says he can still remember most of the calls he responded to over the past 31 years. “River rescues, car accidents, house fires whatever it is. Firefighters are happiest when they working and there is always a good buzz,” he said.

While Greg will miss the camaraderie within Limerick Fire and Rescue Service he says he will not miss having to miss some family events and the occasional Christmas dinner given the nature of working shifts.

Chief Fire Officer, Michael Ryan, is wishing Greg well on his retirement. “We all wish him the best in his retirement and for his future plans.  Everyone is Limerick is very proud of the service that firefighters provide, mostly during times of terrible personal strife for the people involved,” he said.