Belfast Telegraph

New Year Honours: Firefighter Heather Smart who blazed real trail is recognised

 

Female first: Heather Smart
Female first: Heather Smart

By Stewart Robson

Northern Ireland's first female firefighter Heather Smart is to receive an MBE for services to the advancement of women in the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS).

Heather, who comes from Ballyclare, joined the then-Northern Ireland Fire Brigade in 1991 and retired earlier this year after 27 years' service with red watch at Knock Fire Station.

She has been recognised for her role in advocating a career in the Fire & Rescue Service to women, paving the way for the 62 female firefighters currently employed in the job.

She has been an inspirational speaker at career outreach events in local schools and played a key role during NIFRS' 'Come and Try' days - a programme to give women the opportunity to find out more about the role of a firefighter.

In addition to her day job as a responding to emergency calls, Heather also made a valuable contribution to local fundraising activities, including the Fire Fighters Charity.

Carmel McKinney, who chairs the NIFRS board, last night hailed her as being a "trailblazer of her time", while Alan Walmsley, interim Chief Fire Officer, described her as a "passionate advocate and ambassador for female firefighters".

Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Willie John McBride- CBE for services to Rugby Union. Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy/BLL
Heather Smart, Northern Irelands first female Firefighter- MBE for services to the advancement of women in the fire and rescue service.
Gareth McAuley, Northern Ireland defender- MBE for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Crusaders Manager Stephen Baxter- BEM for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
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PSNI Inspector Rosie Leech- MBE for services to Policing and the Community in Northern Ireland. Credit: PA
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PSNI Superintendent Brian Kee- Queen's Police Medal (QPM). Credit: PSNI

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