Thomas Purcell was an engineer and firefighter who was a native of Co Kilkenny, Ireland. He served as Chief Fire Officer of Dublin Fire Brigade during a time of great change and unrest from 1892 to 1917. Purcell is credited with having built the Brigade into a well-trained and efficient organisation
Thomas Purcell was born in Johnswell, Co Kilkenny in 1850. As a young man he was a member of the Kilkenny City Volunteer Fire Brigade. Purcell was awarded the medal of the Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire in July 1876. He was given the award for rescuing a woman during a fire at a drapery store in Kilkenny City.
In March 1892 Purcell was appointed Chief Fire Officer (Superintendent) of Dublin Fire Brigade. During his time in charge of the Brigade he was responsible for many innovations in training and equipment. He designed the first emergency ambulance for the fire brigade and oversaw its introduction in January 1898. Purcell was also responsible for the design of the brigade’s first motorised pump. It had a 50hp engine and a rear mounted turbine pump capable of delivering 350 gallons per minute. This was a big advance on the existing horse drawn equipment.
The first Dublin Fire Brigade motor pump designed by Thomas Purcell and built by Leyland arrived in Dublin in the year 1909 On This Day.
Dublin Fire Brigade