Everyday Heroes – Darragh Burke
26 February 2021
Set in the magnificent backdrop of Knocknarea mountain in Strandhill, Sligo, we meet Darragh Burke, an open eir Assurance Technician, (virtually of course, Darragh from his open eir van in the beautiful setting seen in his photos and us from our home office). Darragh joined open eir in 2016 as an Apprentice Technician on the Apprentice Programme.
Located in the dramatic “Wild Atlantic Way” Darragh is no stranger to a storm or two and what that can mean when working on a country-wide network that is open to the elements. He embraces his role with passion and determination as he works to protect and restore open eir’s fixed network services. Ensuring services are maintained or outages are short lived, limiting the impact to all of us who have come to rely on such a network. In our continued “everyday front line heroes” journey we talk to Darragh about his role in open eir and the vital importance of broadband, now more than ever.
Hi Darragh, thank you for talking to us today, can I start by asking what made you apply for a job in open eir?
I wanted to develop personally and professionally. I saw the advertisement for apprenticeships and knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. I have developed so much since I started with eir, the training is fantastic. And it’s not just technical training, we also receive customer training which teaches us how to speak to people of all ages and from different cultures. For me I don’t see this job as work, it’s a privilege.
Have you had many roles in open eir?
Since completing my apprenticeship I am now also a National Response Technician, this means that if there was a storm I could be sent anywhere in the country as part of the response team. I have a hybrid van which means I have all the equipment I need to fix copper and fibre faults right on site. There is nothing that can’t be fixed, some might just take a bit longer!
Describe your typical day for us.
I sign on to the system first thing and see what faults have been assigned to me for the day. I try to diagnose the faults from the test results, these results allow me to see if there is a break in the line. I then make a plan for the day to complete as much as I can. When I clear a fault I often have to go to the house to test that it is working. The day can run over if I encounter some difficult issues – that’s just part of the job. Weather also plays a massive part in my job. Storm damage is the worst – there can be 100’s of meters of cable down, impacting many many customers. We try to fix these as quickly as we can but we need to be always mindful of Health and Safety, for example in strong winds it can be too dangerous for pole climbing. Rain is ok as we have all the protective clothing but we can’t work in lightning.
What do you like about working in open eir?
Genuinely, my favourite thing is making customers happy. Especially elderly customers, after fixing a fault the relief I see on their faces and that of their families is a wonderful thing and I am happy that I can do that. I get my allocation of faults for the day sent to me and if I see that a home has a medical alarm, I nearly drop everything and go there first.
Even if a customer is unhappy at first I find a way to break the ice while I get on with the job. I might mention that the garden looks well and start a conversation that way!
Can you sum up how you feel about working for open eir?
Oh that’s hard. I can just tell you that I love coming to work. I love the legacy in eir – it’s not just a job it’s a family, a community and I know that my managers and colleagues have a genuine interest in me and my future.
And finally can you tell us about the impact of Covid-19 on your job?
If anything I feel more driven. I am thankful that I still have a job while so many people have been unfortunate and lost theirs. I feel completely safe in my duties and we receive daily health and safety updates. When I have to enter a home I ask the customers to move to a different room and keep the windows open. I work as quickly and efficiently as possible. The satisfaction from restoring service when people are so dependent on broadband to work, learn and so much more at the moment is a great reward.
Darragh is part of a team of 650 people whose sole aim is to restore faults and get homes and premises back up and running as quickly as possible, #keepingIrelandconnected