August 31, 2015

HUDDERSFIELD - 1941


Photos: ITV, Examiner

The war years weren't immune to accidents.

On Oct. 31, 1941, fire swept H. Booth & Son clothing factory in Huddersfield, England, claiming 49 lives. 


Recalling the fire, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner said:  "The five-story clothing factory had only one staircase, no evacuation drill and a buzzer system which failed."

The cause of the fire was deemed to be "
a smoker’s pipe left alight inside a raincoat pocket," according to Wikipedia.

August 04, 2015

CATACOMBS - 1949


On Dec. 21, 1949, fire broke out in stacks of Christmas trees stored in catacombs beneath London's Covent Garden flower market - and burned for more than a day.


A fireman died; many others were injured, according to press reports.

More than 1 million gallons of water were pumped into the catacombs.

In some spaces, the water rose as high as as five feet.

Armed with pneumatic drills, the fire brigade bored holes in concrete floors allowing smoke to escape.


In a report to the London City Council on Jan. 24, 1950,  Chief Fire Officer F. W. Delve deemed the fire brigade's performance as "satisfactory."

However, historical notes on the website
Fire Net cite a variety of shortcomings.

M
en worked alone. "In trying to rescue a colleague, one fireman became so exhausted he barely made it back to street level to summon assistance."

As it was still the day of the "smoke eater," firemen who donned breathing apparatus (BA) often times didn’t use the equipment until they had inhaled copious amounts of smoke.

Additionally:

No one was taking count of firemen entering the premises;
communications were "bad to non-existent"; no minimum charging pressure for BA cylinders, with many only two-thirds full.

GREEN GODDESS


Photo: Daily Express
From 1953 to 2004, the British government maintained a fleet of "Green Goddess" 
reserve fire engines for civil defense and national emergencies.

Photo above shows m
ilitary firefighters and "Green Goddess" at fire in Cambridge during 2002 fire strike.

The engines were also used during the 1977 fire strike.


Illustration: BBC

July 30, 2015

OAKWOOD HOSPITAL - 1957


Three members of the Kent Fire Brigade died in the aftermath of a fire at a psychiatric hospital in November 1957.

From Kent History Forum


The fire which broke out at Oakwood Mental Hospital on 29th November 1957 will never be forgotten by the Brigade as amongst the six killed at the scene were three Brigade personnel. An emergency call was made by the night Nursing Superintendent immediately he discovered the fire whilst making his rounds.

The call was received at Maidstone Fire Station at 06.40 hours and were on the scene within four minutes. On arrival the Brigade found hospital staff fighting the fire with a jet, direct from a hydrant. Faced with a developing fire situation at first floor level adjacent to the wards containing 350 mentally ill patients, the officer-in-charge of the two appliances and Turntable Ladder despatched in the initial response got to work after "making pumps 6" at 06.48.

Having started in the tailor's shop on the first floor, the fire raged out of control through the workshop wing, the printer's shop, the library, a staff rest room, the TV room and upwards into the roof. The fire was brought under control by six jets and the "Stop" message was sent at 07.30.

Adjacent to the section of the building where the fire had occurred was a brick built ventilation tower 115 ft in height.

Whilst the cleaning up operations were in progress and half the personnel were enjoying a well earned cup of tea, at 10.01 without any warning, the tower collapsed completely falling on the workshop block and causing the destruction of the building around it. Buried beneath the tons of masonry were several members of the Brigade and also some Oakwood staff including the hospitals Chief fireman. Others were trapped on all levels of the building from the basement to the first floor, some being in considerable danger.

The rescue operations commenced without delay and were organised by Brigade Control with firemen and hospital staff and a request was made for the  attendance of Civil Defence Rescue Parties who responded within a very short time from six towns and who were very quickly at work.

Working in extremely dangerous conditions, under large quantities of bricks and rubble and soaking wet, fire weakened timbers, the rescuers struggled through the remains of the workshops wing to rescue those who had been injured.

Recovered form the wreckage were the three bodies of the firemen who had been killed. Retained Station Officer SE Pearce who had been digging through the rubble searching for casualties found a partially buried body. After further frantic digging through the debris he discovered to his distress that he had uncovered the body of his own brother, ADO Leslie Pearce. He collapsed from shock and was taken to hospital by ambulance. Search and Rescue operations continued until the last body, that of a civilian, had been recovered at 14.30 hours on Sunday 1st December 1957.

The firemen killed were: 

ADO LA Pearce - C Division, Retained Fireman AE Farrow - Loose Fire Station and Retained Fireman JA Hawkes -Loose Fire Station.

The firemen injured were:

ADO HR Evans-Brigade Headquarters, Retained Station Officer SE Pearce Maidstone Fire Station -Retained Fireman DS Latham - Loose Fire Station, Retained Fireman GR Burden -Loose Fire Station, Retained Fireman NF Austin - West Malling Fire Station, Retained Fireman C Wallis - Maidstone Fire Station.

Before the funeral service for the three Kent Firemen on December 5th, large crowds gathered in Maidstone to pay their last respects. The procession was led by Senior Officers and over a hundred firemen from all four Divisions of the County and the funeral service attended by nearly 800 people,  was conducted by Canon FLM Bennett at All Saints Church, Maidstone.

A Tribunal appointed by the South East Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board held a public enquiry into the disaster on the 30th/31st January 1958, finding that a clothes iron, which had been left on overnight in the tailor's shop, had been the cause of the fire. 

Source: Fifty Vigilant Years and CFO's Annual Report 1957/58

July 29, 2015

STRIKING POSE

Fireman alongside statue of Queen Victoria after fire in Stepney, 1931

July 27, 2015

METROPOLITAN WHARF

Photo: flashback.com
40 pumps, Metropolitan Wharf, Wapping, May 10, 1973

WELLESLEY - 1914






On March 11, 1914, fire destroyed the training ship Wellesley on the River Tyne at North Shields.

The old wooden warship was moored on the river as an industrial training school for wayward boys.

The fire broke out in the vessel's drying room and spread rapidly, according to the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museum.

It was the boys who battled the flames on the deck, assisted by Tyne Commissioners fire boats.

The smoke "was yellowy with this tar content in it," Edward Joseph Hatfield, one of the boys, recalled as an adult. "We had to go to port every so often and take a breather and then come back.

"There was no bother at all. We weren't panic stricken.

"In fact I think most of us were glad she was burning." 

July 24, 2015

COLONIAL WHARF


On Sept. 25, 1935, a spectacular fire swept Colonial Wharf, starting in a warehouse for rubber, tea and spirits - and burning for four days.

A news dispatch said:

"B
lazing debris fell on four barges, destroying them, and streams of molten rubber ran down and blocked the drains, while a film of burning rubber spread over the Thames."

The 60-pump fire destroyed a seven-story building.

Colonial Wharf is located in Wapping, East London.

SAILORS' HOME

Image: Illustrated London News

On April 29, 1860, flames gutted the Liverpool Sailors' Home, claiming two lives.


Fireman Robert Hardaker plunged 40 feet to his death when a ladder snapped, while a
 seaman, Joseph Clark, died saving books and papers.

Hardaker had scaled the ladder to break out windows, according to the April 30 edition of The Daily Post.


 "The water pressure around Canning Place was unexpectedly low so the water jets could not reach roof height and the iron frames of the windows, with their small panels, also prevented firemen from getting water to the seat of the flames," according to  an online history.

Residents on the sixth floor broke through iron window frames and crawled along a ledge to reach fire brigade ladders.


The cause of the blaze was thought to be careless smoking.

WEST INDIA DOCKS

Photo: londonsriver.com
Fire boats at West India Docks during the Blitz.

West India Docks docks on the Isle of Dogs, which served commercial traffic from 1803 to 1980, were savaged by German bombers during World War Two.

In the 19th Century, the docks mainly traded in rum, molasses and sugar, according to the website Port Cities.

By the 
20th century, the docks also handled grain, meat, fruit, vegetables and timber. 

Today, the Canary Wharf project occupies the site.

***

On Dec. 7, 1940, the first day of the Blitz, the Isle of Dogs was a prime target.


"Jerry was well aware of this," Doris Lilian Bennett who was working at an Auxiliary Fire Service control center on the island, said in an oral history compiled by the BBC.

"Around the edges close to the river were timber yards, paint works, boiler making and engineering factories, and other factories producing jams, pickles and confectionery," Bennett said.

"Across the top of the Island were the three large West India Docks, down the middle were the Millwall Docks, the docksides lined with shipping from all over the world, their warehouses stuffed with the cargoes those ships had carried.

"At the bottom end of the Millwall Docks were MacDougalls flour mills, 
their tall silos an outstanding landmark, all close together, the whole of the Island highly inflammable."

Flames swept the landscape.


"The air-raid continued, unabated, as well as the noise of the bombers and their bombs was the noise of the Ack-ack guns, four of them, on the Mud-chute, pounding away, the noise of their shells going up competing with the noise of Jerry’s little offerings coming down."

That didn't stop the fire brigade.


"We in the Control Room carried on with what we had to do, taking and relaying messages," Bennett said.

"T
he telephones were put out of order as wires were cut.

"We then relied on the young messengers and our two dispatch riders on their motor-bikes to fetch and take."

July 23, 2015

VAUXHALL - 1918


"I heard Sub-officer Cornford call out `Look out Sir' and saw the building collapsing. I called out `drop everything and run.'"

On Jan. 30, 1918, fire claimed the lives of seven London firefighters in the Vauxhall section of the Borough of Lambeth.


The following official report - from the Superintendent of "E" District - is posted on the web site of the Vauxhall Society, courtesy of the London Fire Brigade Museum.


Loss of Life at a Fire Collapse of Building


I submit that at 3-44 a.m of this date a call was received by stranger to a private house alight at Albert Embankment, S.E., to which Motor Escape, Motor Pump and 10 men from No.94. Station Vauxhall and Motor Pump and 6 men from No.87. station Kennington responded.

At 3-55 a.m., a "home call" message was received, viz:- It is a building of three floors about 40 x 40 ft. used as Pepper Mills alight, one hydrant in use. No.3. Westminster Motor Pump and 6 men were ordered and I attended with No.80. Motor Car and 2 men.

On my arrival I found the upper floors of abuilding of three floors about 45 x 30 ft. (used as cattle food manufacturers) well alight, and part of roof and upper floor had fallen in. The fire was practically extinquished by the use of two hydrants and 1 Motor Pump and the stop sent back accordingly.

At 5-34 a.m., owing to a considerable amount of turning over to be done, a message was dispatched to the effect that appliances would be detained for a time and a few minutes later another message asking for a Sub-officer and four men to be sent on with a view to the appliances and myself returning home.

At about 5-45 a.m. I was on the ground floor and in consequence of hearing a cracking noise, cleared everyone out of the building. Owing to the ground mist and smoke, the front of the building was hardly discernible, a hydrant was still being used up the Escape, I went to the front of the building with the men with a view of making up and removing the Escape, when suddenly I heard Sub-officer Cornford call out "Look out Sir" and saw the building collapsing. I called out "drop everything and run", but was knocked down by the falling debris and part of the Escape, being subsequently extricated by our men from amongst the debris. On making enquiry, I found that a message to the effect that the building had collapsed and that several of our men were buried and ambulances were requires had been sent back. I gave instructions for the debris to be searched for the bodies of our men, then saw the Divisional Officer South who, on hearing of the nature of my injuries ordered me home. I have since been examined by the District Medical Officer, and placed on the sick list, nature of illness "Injury to Legs".

I regret to have to report the undermentioned casualties:

-KILLED:-
No.100. Sub-officer W.E.Cornford - No.80 Clapham.
No.616. Fireman K.J.Fairbrother - No.87 Kennington.
No.718. " W.E.Nash - No.87 Kennington.
No.944. " J.W.C.Johnson - No.94 Vauxhall.
No.1087. " A.A.Page - No.94 Vauxhall.
No.1174.Temp.Fireman J.E.Fay - No.87 Kennington

SEVERELY INJURED:-
No.151. Sub-Officer W.W.Hall - No.94 Vauxhall.
since dead.

INJURED:-
Superintedent J.Barrows. - "E" District.
Station-Officer E.Partner - No.87. Kennington.

(Signed) ........J.BARROWS

BRIXTON - 1910

Photo: BrixtonBuzz

Flames gutted a Brixton cloth and dry goods store on Aug. 19, 1910.

"The fire at Messrs. Morley and Lanceley, general drapers, of the Brixton Road spread with great rapidity, and did a very considerable amount of damage," London Illustrated News reported.

"
Fortunately, the assistants who were on the premises at the time (between fifty and sixty) escaped unhurt, most of them in their night attire.

"
Several cases of heroism were recorded; and much praise was given to the work of the fireman."

Today the business is known as Morley's.

April 22, 2015

SHEFFIELD BLITZ

UPDATED JUNE 15, 2015

Photo: The Star
Inferno at King's Head Hotel, Dec. 12, 1940

Photo: The Star
Taxi turned auxiliary fire engine, High Street, Dec. 12 1940

It was a savage aerial attack.

German raiders hit Sheffield, England, on the nights of Dec. 12 and Dec. 15, 1940, killing 693 people, destroying 3,000 homes - and leaving a tenth of the population homeless.


Fire Officer Christopher Eyre, quoted on the fire brigade's website, said: "If a man who went through it all tells you he wasn't afraid that night you can take it he's lying."

Eyre also said: "W
e were ringed in by flame, and yet I seemed to be in a vacuum."


In The Star newspaper, Blitz Fireman Doug Lightning recalled in a 2014 interview: "There wasn't enough men or enough hose to deal with all the fires and it was no good putting a drop of water on this one and a drop of water on that one so we had to choose out battles carefully."

According to Sheffield City Council, the 
industrial eastern section of the city was largely "defended" by fog the first night and the Luftwaffe struck elsewhere, wiping out much of Angel Street.


When the bombers returned t
wo nights later, they hit Hadfield’s Hecla and East Hecla Works (the U.K.'s lone manufacturer of 18-inch armor piercing bullets), Brown Bayleys steelworks, Arthur Lee and other industrial estates near the River Don.


FIRE BRIGADE LINK

'KEEP CALM, CARRY ON'

Photo: anglotopia.net
Constable checks in after air raid

April 06, 2015

WEST END - 2015


On April 1, 2015, a swath of central London - including the West End theater district - was blacked out by a fire in an electrical vault, forcing cancellation of The Lion King, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Play That Goes Wrong and other shows, the Daily Mail reported.

February 26, 2015

'WON'T TRY THIS AGAIN'


London firemen release boy from fence, circa 1950s or 1960s

December 12, 2014

WORSLEY HOTEL FIRE

40TH ANNIVERSARY

 

On Dec. 13, 1974, an arson fire swept the Worsley Hotel in the Maida Vale section of London, killing 7 people - including a probationary firefighter named Hamish ``Harry'' Petit.

Three other firefighters were injured.

The story of the Worsley Hotel fire was recorded by journalist Gordon Honeycombe in the book ``Red Watch'' and by former London officer Neil Wallington in the book "Fireman! A personal account."

The hotel's kitchen porter, Edward Mansfield, was convicted of setting the fire and sentenced to life in prison.

MORE

November 03, 2014

LULWORTH CASTLE - 1929


On Aug. 29, 1929, flames gutted Lulworth Castle in Dorset, England.

The 16th Century castle sat in disrepair in the decades following the blaze.

Restoration work began in the 1970s and was completed in 1988.

The Aug. 30, 1929 edition of the Times of London published the following account of the inferno:


The Dorchester brigade was the first to arrive, shortly before 11 o’clock. Mr. A. R. Jeffrey, chief officer of the Dorchester brigade, and firemen wearing smoke helmets made their way to the roof immediately above the fire. The roof was of lead, and was concealed from view by battlements. With some difficulty a hosepipe was got up and was turned on to the flames through the roof. The fire had still failed to cover the whole of the top floor, and there were hopes that it might be prevented from spreading. Then, at the critical moment, the water ceased to flow. It had been pumped from a large tank in the garden, which soon became exhausted. A supply of water was next obtained from a well a few yards from the mansion. The brigades of Poole, Swanage and Weymouth had now arrived, as well as a sergeant and 14 men of the Royal Tank Corps who are stationed at Lulworth. They, with the villagers, the estate workers, and Girl Guides who were encamped in Lulworth Park, did valuable work in saving the treasures in the building.

The fire was still confined to the top floor, but was burning fiercely, and it was apparent that unless a larger volume of water could be poured on to the flames the buildings were doomed. The salvage workers had been forced to retreat from the third storey, but they continued their work below, and the lawns around the mansion were strewn with old furniture, books, paintings, and other art treasures. Efforts were made to save the King’s Bed before smoke and heat made it impossible to reach the third storey, but without success. 

The supply of water from the well was still being poured on the flames, but this well also became exhausted. Part of the lead roof fell in, and the third floor became ablaze. Two members of the Dorchester fire brigade were slightly injured by molten lead and falling glass. Salvage work was still going on in the lower storeys, but water was now the great need. About two miles from the mansion is Arish Mell Gap, through which the sea can be seen from the terrace of the castle. The sea now appeared to be the only available source of supply, and between the mansion and the coast three fire engines were placed at intervals and a line of pipe was run into the sea, but all attempts to get sea water failed.|

The King’s Room and the ballroom on the third floor were now blazing, and there was nothing to prevent the fire spreading. The flames issued from the windows of the circular towers and from all sides of the building. The task of removing the salved treasures from the lawns to buildings on the estate was carried on throughout this afternoon and evening. It was not until about 5 o’clock that the fire burned itself out. To-night there are beams in the building still smouldering, and some of the walls of the castle, owing to the damage they have suffered, have rents which give them a dangerous appearance.

October 23, 2014

DAVE'S STORY

Dave Squires
 
Editor's Note: Weston-super-Mare is a town located on Bristol Channel in North Somerset, England. You editor found the following story on the fire brigade's website. It's an inspiring tale about a local fire buff named Dave Squires.

Dave Squires first appeared outside the ‘Station’ in June 1983 (then aged 29 Years). He would walk up and down, looking at the Fire Station but would suddenly disappear and return another day. The Firemen then had no knowledge that Dave was un-employed and had Learning Difficulties. After several weeks Jack Bell went out and invited Dave in.

Dave appeared to be very nervous and shy but was shown around the Appliance Room before he made an excuse that he had to go home, and he was gone.


Dave, however, continued to visit the Station and the Firemen of White Watch warmed to this visitor.

Dave appeared to have little confidence and it took some persuasion on the part of White Watch to get him to join them for a cup of tea in the Mess Room on the 1st Floor. Whilst in the Mess Room there was a two-pump and TL shout leaving just two of us on the Station with Dave. A problem was apparent – Dave could not face going down the stairs and he froze and began to panic. Dave had shown no outward problem when he climbed the stairs but he was clearly not going to descend without help. It took the two of us - fifteen minutes to coax Dave down the stairs, sat on his backside – one step at a time. Later we found out that Dave lived in a Ground Floor Flat with his parents and an Auntie. Dave continued his visits and was welcomed by all the Watches on the Station. Dave never had a problem with the stairs again!

As time went on, Dave was given an old Lancer Fire Tunic, Yellow Leggings, a Helmet and would be ‘allowed’ to ‘Man’ the Land Rover! Eventually, he was given (all donated left-offs) shirts, trousers and cap. Dave gradually became less shy, and his confidence building was not only apparent to the Firemen but also to his family. So much so, that on the first Christmas, Dave’s parents opened their home and invited all Station Personnel to join them in a ‘drink’. Dave’s family were so grateful to the Firemen at Weston for all their interest shown in Dave and for their encouragement in boosting Dave’s confidence.
 
Early Spring 1984, (some eight or nine months after Dave’s first visit to the Station) a Fireman by the nickname of ‘Scooter’ came on duty one day clutching a local newspaper. ‘Scooter’ announced that there was a job in the situations vacant column which would be ideal for young Dave. The situation vacant was for a ‘trolley attendant’ at Leo’s Supermarket. The, then, Manager, of Leo’s was known to the Firemen. He had kindly given his permission for our Christmas Carol Float to be in attendance outside the Supermarket. The Firemen, with their knowledge of Dave, were able to recommend that Dave be given a chance to fill the vacancy, as they knew Dave to be reliable. Dave is still at the Supermarket today!

For all the difficulties Dave has endured he has a wonderful memory (which is more than can be said for a large majority of us Firemen). Dave could remember where every piece of equipment belonged in the Appliance Lockers and would, quite often, find items that we had mislaid.
 
Dave’s memory was put to the test. Watching a Fireman taking a Drill in preparation for his Leading Fireman’s Exam, a fellow Fireman enquired "do you want to have a go Dave"? Dave responded quickly and recited the Drill instructions word for word.

Dave was working throughout the week but on Saturday and Sunday evenings (Stand-down time) Dave was encouraged to take Parade and make out the Duty Board – this he did efficiently and still does it today!

Dave’s presence on the Station was accepted by Senior Officers throughout the Brigade!
 
Dave’s ‘help’ was never taken for granted and the Firemen wanted to reward Dave for his outstanding achievements. So, off to HQ we went and Dave witnessed a Recruits’ Passing Out Parade. This, Dave, thought to be a great honour and he enjoyed himself immensely.

The years went on and Dave’s enthusiasm for the Fire Station never failed.
 
In 1987, Dave’s mother passed away but Dave appeared to treat his loss as a ‘a fact of Life’. Dave remained at home with his father and his Auntie. Around 1999 Dave’s Auntie died and in January 2001 Dave’s father died.

Dave, who was once introverted and protected by his loving and supportive family now lives an independent life and is self-sufficient. Indeed Dave copes with all his washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning as well as holding down the same job. He finds time for recreation amidst all of the aforesaid mentioned - he plays Skittles with the William Knowles Centre, he attends the Winter Gardens (when Wrestling is taking place) and travels on Public Transport. He even travels on Public Transport to places such as Bodmin in Cornwall where he stays at a specially chosen Centre for his annual Holiday.
 
This is an encouraging story and shows that we are not put on this earth to see through each other - BUT TO SEE EACH OTHER THROUGH. 

October 09, 2014

EXETER - 1887

Painting by Fred Ford from collection of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service


On Sept. 5, 1887, a fire at Exter's Theatre Royal killed 168 people.

Gas lighting ignited some gauze backstage on the opening night of a romantic comedy called Romany Rye.

A witness reported:

"Soon after the outbreak the City Fire Brigade were on the spot, but the water they poured on the fire was absolutely without effect."

 The number of exits proved to be inadequate for the audience.

 Only 68 bodies were recovered.

The blaze led to national fire safety reforms.

There were 800 people in the audience and most of the deaths occurred in the upper gallery.

Victims were buried in a mass grave.

LINK

BEESTON - 1886

On April 29, 1886, fire destroyed Anglo Scotian Mills in Beeston, England. The plant was by Frank Wilkinson, who stands in the foreground, according to Exploring Beeston's History.

ROAD TO RECOVERY

Photo: Street of Liverpool
Workers retrieve fire engine from bomb crater on Roe Street in Liverpool in late 1941.

October 08, 2014

EARLY BLITZ

Firefighters at work in City near London Bridge on Sept. 9, 1940, the early days of Hitler's blitz. Click on photo for full view.

September 23, 2014

BIRMINGHAM

Photo: Wikipedia
Blitz damage on Birmingham High Street, looking toward Bull Ring, April 10, 1941. The Luftwaffe dropped 1,852 tons of bombs on Birmingham between August 1940 and April 1943.

September 22, 2014

FALKLANDS HOSPITAL FIRE


By London Fire Journal

On April 10, 1984, fire claimed eight lives - including a hero nurse - at King Edward Memorial Hospital, the only hospital in the Falkland Islands, the remote British overseas territory off Argentina.

Nurse Barbara Chick, 36, who emigrated from Britain a year earlier, "ignored orders to keep out of the burning hospital and stayed with her patients until she was overcome by smoke," the Associated Press reported. 
 
Teresa McGill, 26, and her newborn daughter, Karen, were also among the dead, according to rootsweb.com. The others were four women and a man.

The AP reported that one of the victims was married to a local firefighter.
 
The hospital, located in Port Stanley, was built in 1914 and in disrepair.
 
BBC correspondent Robert Fox, reporting from the scene, said:
 
"By dawn, all that was left was four stumps of chimneys, the thin wood boarding of the walls, and fittings flapping like charred tissue paper in the wind."

The hospital lacked fire doors and working fire hoses and pumps.

Royal Air Force firefighters drew water from the sea for the local fire brigade.
 

A temporary hospital was established at Port Stanley town hall.

The blaze also damaged a prefabricated section of the hospital used by the U.K. military, which defeated Argentine troops in the Falkland Islands War two years earlier.
 
From London, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sent a message of "deepest sympathy."

Speaking in the House of Lords on April 11, Baroness Young, minister of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, acknowledged "fire hazards" existed.
 
A parliamentry investigation into the fire was damning.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Aug. 1, MP Michael Stern said:

"Lack of fire doors was perhaps the principal and most obvious cause of the rapid spread of the fire, which was the reason why so many lives were lost.

"There had been many reports in the 1970s of the inadequate fire precautions in this and other public buildings in Port Stanley.

"In 1982, the fire officer, the civilian doctor and the military authorities together demanded the urgent installation of fire doors in the hospital - a wooden building - as the only way of stopping a fire should one break out."

"By the date of the fire, those doors had not even been ordered.

"As a result, whatever the cause of the fire - perhaps inevitably, the report was unclear about the exact cause - it spread rapidly and uncontrollably, and the deaths that occurred were to a large extent inevitable.

"Had fire doors been in situ, the deaths might have been avoided."

A new hospital opened in 1987.

In England, Barbara Chick, a Bristol native, was honored with a ceremony and plaque at Shirehampton Health Centre on Sept. 5, 1984, according to the November 1984 edition of the Falkland Islands Newsletter.

It read:

In Memory of Nurse Barbara Chick, S.E.N
A resident of Shirehampton, who
gave her life on 10th April 1984

trying to rescue patients
trapped by a fire at the
King Edward VII Memorial Hospital
Port Stanley
Falkand Islands


At the  ceremony, Dick Mellor, chairman of the Southmead Health Authority, said:

"Her whole life was caring for others. In that disasterous fire her reactions automatically were for the patients first."  
 
LINKS:
 
Associated Press  
Glasgow Herald   House of Lords, April 11, 1984 
House of Commons, April 11, 1984   House of Commons, Aug. 1, 1984

September 03, 2014

THE QUEEN'S OWN

Photo: G. Del Giudice
Buckingham Palace - August 2014

August 20, 2014

KING GEORGE VI


King George VI visits Lambeth Fire Station during World War II. Major Frank Jackson, chief of London Fire Brigade during 1940-41 blitz, stands in helmet and uniform in right of photo.

August 19, 2014

OLD PALACE SCHOOL


It's the largest loss of fire service personnel in U.K. History. On April 20, 1941, a German bomb landed on Auxiliary Fire Service Sub Station 24U, which was housed in Old Palace LCC School, St. Leonards Street, Poplar. Thirty-two firemen and two fire women perished. Twenty-one of the dead were from AFS Beckenham, Kent. They had been sent to London to provide relief.

The following roll of honor is from rootschat.com

AFS Firewoman (Telephonist) Hilda Dupree – AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 21. Of 33 Warwick Road, Walthamstow, Essex.

Firewoman Winifred Alexandra Peters – London Fire Brigade
Died 20th April 1941 aged 39. Of 122 Canton Street

AFS Fireman Percy Charles Aitchison – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 27. Of 20 Copse Avenue, West Wickham, Kent.

AFS Fireman Ronald Mark Bailey – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 25. of 81 Links Road, Tooting.

AFS Fireman Alan Charles Barber – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 26. Of 6 Fairford Close, Shirley, Croydon, Surrey.

AFS Fireman Earnest Reginald Beadle – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 32. Of 211 Birkbeck Road, Beckenham.

AFS Fireman Kenneth John Bowles – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 30. Of 27 Beckenham Road, West Wickham, Kent.

AFS Fireman John Coleman Burrell – AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 35. Of 39 North Street, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

AFS Fireman Patrick Joseph Campbell – AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 24. Of 39 Bannister House, Homerton

AFS Fireman Harry John Carden – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 29. Of 7 Mounthurst Road, Hayes, Bromley, Kent.

AFS Fireman Robert John Deans – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 28. Of 144 The Grove, West Wickham, Kent.

AFS Fireman Frank James Endean – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 36. Of 34 Aviemore Way, Beckenham, Kent.

AFS Fireman Cecil Farley – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 43. Of 5 Linden Leas, West Wickham, Kent.

AFS Fireman George John Joseph Hall – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 43. Of 44 Warwick Road, Anerley, Kent.

AFS Messenger Bertie James Frederick Harris – AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 17. Of 31 Brabazon Street,

AFS Fireman Leslie Thomas Healey– AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 32. Of 15 Greenview Avenue, Shirley, Surrey.

AFS Despatch Rider Ernest Herbert Henly _ AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 19. Of 2 Grange Cottage, Silver Street, Kinton Langley, Chippenham, Wiltshire.

AFS Fireman Sydney Bartholomew Jones – AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 31. Of 54 Harrogate Road, Hackney.

AFS Fireman Albert Victor Kite – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 36. Of 166 Village Way, Beckenham, Kent.

AFS Fireman John Francis Mead– AFS
Died 20th April 1941 aged 29. Of 39 Christie Road, Hackney.

AFS Fireman Vernon Joseph Middleditch – AFS
Died 20th April 1941 aged 31. Of 220 Hunders Lane, Darlington, Co. Durham.

AFS Fireman Alfred Edward Minter – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 46. Of 48 Aylesford Avenue, Beckenham, Kent.

AFS Fireman Norman Richard Charles Mountjoy – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 30. Of 11 Ash Grove, West Wickham, Kent

AFS Fireman Frederick George Parcell – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 32. Of 28 Love Lane, South Norwood, Surrey.

AFS Fireman Martin Charles Parfett – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 31. Of 296 Pickhurst Rise, West Wickham, Kent.

AFS Fireman William Charles Plant – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 26. Of 22 Sultan Street, Beckenham, Kent.

AFS Fireman Cyril Bertram Porter – AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 31. Of 31 Clinton Road, Forest Gate, Essex.

AFS Fireman William Thomas Rashbrook – AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 31. Of 133 Chatsworth Road, Clapton.

AFS Leading Fireman Leonard Roots – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 31. Of 10 Avenue Court, Avenue Road, Anerley, Kent.

AFS Fireman Albert Alfred Saville – AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 35. Of 54 Harrowgate Road, Hackney.

Station Officer Richard William Sinstadt – London Fire Brigade
Died 20th April 1941 aged 46. Of 74 Beccles Drive, Barking, Essex.

AFS Fireman Edgar William Vick – AFS London
Died 20th April 1941 aged 38. Of 234 Eden Way, Beckenham, Kent.

AFS Leading Fireman Walter John Woodland – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 41. Of 68 Links Way, Eden Park, Beckenham, Kent.

AFS Leading Fireman Herbert Charles Wotton – AFS Beckenham
Died 20th April 1941 aged 30. Of 78 Upper Elmers End Road, Beckenham, Kent.

June 14, 2014

ANOTHER WALKOUT


On June 12, 2014, firefighters staged another walkout in a series of protests against pension changes. The action coincided with the start of the World Cup. The public was urged to use caution cooking food  consuming alcohol. The London Fire Brigade urged people to order "takeout" meals.

May 12, 2014

'HEROES WITH GRIMY FACES'

The London Auxiliary Fire Service fighting a fire near Whitehall road caused by an incendiary bomb. Photograph by William Vandivert. London, 1940.
 
AFS trailer pump pulled by taxi 
 
Holborn Circus, London

Professional firemen grumbled. The public sneered. In the end, the U.K.'s auxiliary fire crews performed heroically when German bombs rained from the sky in 1940 and 1941. 

Writing on the 70th anniversary of the Blitz in the Sept. 7, 2010 edition of The Guardian newspaper, Francis Beckett - author of the book "Firefighters and The Blitz" - said the fire service was "about the only thing the government had got right."

In March 1938, the government created the Auxiliary Fire Service to augment the U.K.'s regular fire brigades.

In London alone, the AFS recruited 28,000 auxiliary full- and part-time firefighters to supplement the professional fire crews , and they performed with great courage and determination as German bombs fell.
 
However, "the AFS might easily have failed," Beckett wrote.
 
"Professional firefighters resented it, while AFS people grumbled that they were paid less and their conditions of service were inferior."
 
Members of the public were critical of AFS members for skirting military duty.
 
In the  end, according to Beckett:
 
 "The situation was saved by an alliance between London Fire Brigade chief Major Frank Jackson and the leftwing leader of the Fire Brigades Union, John Horner, who collaborated in persuading regular firefighters to accept the AFS as equal."

The following BBC article surveys the fire service at war:
 
By September 1939 the AFS had over 200,000 members, some of whom were equipped with pumps pulled by cars, or London taxis painted grey, as equipment was in such short supply.

The Blitz on London and other large cities greatly enhanced the reputation of fire-fighters - Winston Churchill dubbed them the 'heroes with grimy faces'. Firemen dealt with hundreds of fires raging out of control as bombs continued to fall and buildings collapsed around them. The blazing fires provided a marker for more German raids, creating yet more destruction. In the first three weeks of the Blitz the London firefighters fought 10,000 fires.

Regular paid fire-fighters worked 48 hours on, 24 hours off, although during the Blitz, they sometimes worked for 40 hours or more. They were joined, mainly at night, by part-time members of the AFS. For many of these volunteers, it was their first experience of fire-fighting.

During the Blitz, the division of responsibility among different fire brigades caused chaos when one fire brigade called for help from others. As a result, in May 1941 the Home Secretary announced that the regional fire brigades and the AFS would be merged, and their name changed to the National Fire Service. This change was effected in August 1941. Some of the most senior jobs went to men from the Auxiliary Fire Service. The creation of the new service ensured that there could be standardisation of organisation, equipment and drills throughout the different fire brigades.

Women were recruited into the fire service from 1938 onwards. In March 1943 there were 32,200 women serving full-time, and 54,600 part-time, with the National Fire Service. While women did not tackle major fires, they provided important back-up to their male colleagues. They staffed communication centres, crewed mobile canteen vans and acted as drivers and dispatch riders. During bombing raids the latter were often the only means of communication between fire crews and their control rooms.

From December 1940, after the 'Second Great Fire of London' showed the disastrous consequences of leaving small commercial and industrial premises unattended at night, compulsory fire-watching patrols were introduced. Men between 16 and 60 were required to put in 48 hours each month. In September 1942, women were also obliged to take their turn.

During the war, more than 900 firemen and women lost their lives.
 
For more:

Blitz! World War II
Classic Movie - "I Was A Fireman"
AFS Women Honored
Remembering War
"Snakehips" Johnson

BLITZ IN NUMBERS

Image: BBC

April 30, 2014

'GET IN THE BACK DUMMY'

 
Photo: BBC
Fire crew rescues mannequins in 1938

OLD BRIXTON


Old Brixton fire station, Ferndale Road

SOUTH LONDON - 1980

Photo: Wikipedia
Firefighters on roof after suspicious blaze at old South London Camping Warehouse in South London in 1980.

January 13, 2014

EMPRESS OF CANADA



On Jan. 25, 1953, fire destroyed the ocean liner Empress of Canada at Gladstone Dock in Liverpool during an annual overhaul.

Firemen said they were fighting a losing battle and withdrew as the doomed ship's steel plates bulged and "rivets flew like bullets."

According to an Australian Associated Press dispatch from Liverpool:


"During the last half-hour before she heeled over the vessel listed rapidly to over 30 degrees.

"Parts of the superstructure and
funnels hit the three-story concrete dock shed and there were resounding crashes from  the burnt out interior of the liner.

"The liner slid quickly on to
her side and smoke billowed high into the air as the red hot hull hit the water."

READING LANE


Photo: Private Collection 
"Make pumps 20." Reading Lane, Hackney, about 1960.

January 11, 2014

FINAL SHOUT


Photo: Islington Gazette
"Alpha 27" - Clerkenwell Fire Station

Is London's safety in jeopardy?

Ten London fire stations - including Clerkenwell, Europe's oldest - answered their final shouts on Jan. 9 as the government pressed on with efforts to realize millions of pounds in savings.

The move prompted emotional scenes as well as warnings that the closures - along with the removal of 14 fire engines from the streets of the capital - will lead to greater loss of life.

The Evening Standard reported: "Firefighters on Green Watch were in tears as they walked out of the Clerkenwell station, which opened in 1872, for the last time."

The building is located on Rosebery Avenue, Islington.

Belsize, Bow, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich also closed, leaving London with 155 engines and 102 fire stations.

At Clerkenwell, the bells went down for the last time at 6:05 a.m.

The Green Watch attended a shout in Oval Road, Regent's Park along with 
Belsize fire station, which also faded into history.

December 27, 2013

APOLLO THEATRE


On Dec. 19, 2013, a section of the famed Apollo Theatre's ornate plasterwork ceiling collapsed during a performace.

Scores were injured.

The London Fire Brigage sent eight engines. The London Ambulance Service sent 25 ambulances.

The Apollo, located in London's West End, opened in 1901.

Nick Harding of the Kingsland Fire Station said:

“We believe around 720 people were in the theatre at the time. A section of the theatre’s ceiling collapsed onto the audience who were watching the show. The ceiling took parts of the balconies down with it.

“Firefighters worked really hard in very difficult conditions and I’d like to pay tribute to them. They rescued people from the theatre, made the area safe and then helped ambulance crews with the injured.
         
“Specialist urban search and rescue crews were also called to the scene to make sure no one was trapped. Fortunately all those who were trapped were rescued and treated for injuries or taken to hospital.'
         
"London Ambulance Service treated 76 patients, 58 of whom were taken to hospital to be treated for their injuries. Fifty one of these were walking wounded and seven had more serious injuries.

“In my time as a fire officer I’ve never seen an incident like this. I imagine lots of people were out enjoying the show in the run-up to Christmas. My thoughts go out to all those affected.”