accessibility & help

New Red Cross north coast service needs your help

29 July 2009

Man standing in front of fess vehicleBrian Morrison PhotographyThe British Red Cross runs many services for the community across Northern Ireland and is now actively looking for volunteers to sign up for a new fire and emergency support service (FESS) that will be based in Portrush to serve the north coast area.

Working with people in crisis at home and overseas, the well-known humanitarian organisation is gearing up to launch the new service this autumn, but urgently needs to hear from prospective volunteers who live within a 20-minute drive of the Portrush fire station.

Tragic fires

FESS co-ordinator, Bobby Pollock says that the tragic fires in Australia earlier this year made people more aware of the impact that fire can have on people’s lives and property and generated a greater understanding of its devastating effect.

“Although we’ve never seen anything on the scale of the Australian fires, every year in Northern Ireland hundreds of people are affected by house fires, with some loosing their homes entirely,” Bobby Pollock said.

“Even when people are adequately insured, the immediate aftermath of a fire can be extremely traumatic, especially when an incident occurs at night or during the course of a weekend. Not everyone has family living nearby, so who do you turn to when you’re standing in your nightclothes looking at the smouldering remains of you home?”

Food clothes and toys

Mr Pollock explained that the Red Cross FESS vehicle contains washing facilities, food, clothes, toys and other everyday necessities that people would need if they had suffered a house fire. Volunteers would be required to drive the vehicle to the scene of the fire and give practical and emotional help and support to individuals and families who have suffered a house fire.

The FESS service has already been operating successfully in the Greater Belfast area for 10 years, with a satellite service launched in Omagh in 2006. The charity now hopes to sign up eight new volunteers to help get a similar service up and running for the north coast.

Volunteer requirements

As full training will be provided, no experience is necessary, however ideal volunteers will be reasonably physically fit, of a caring disposition and able to make themselves available on an on-call rota basis.

“As every callout requires two volunteers, experience has shown us that retired couples can make particularly good volunteers for this particular role. We anticipate that successful applicants will start their training in August with the service becoming operational in the autumn,” Bobby Pollock said.

Anyone interested in hearing more about the new service can contact Bobby Pollock at the Red Cross on 028 9073 5368 or email

Find out more about FESS volunteering

Learn more about the fire and emergency support service