April 02, 2013
April 01, 2013
In April 1981, the streets of Brixton erupted in flames.
The disturbance started after police attempted to assist a stabbing victim. Rumors spread that officers were arresting the stabbing victim rather than helping him.
According to the Metropolitan Police:
"299 police were injured, and at least 65 civilians. 61 private vehicles and 56 police vehicles were damaged or destroyed. 28 premises were burned and another 117 damaged and looted. 82 arrests were made."
March 31, 2013
March 05, 2013
Four is the loneliest number.
A veteran U.K. firefighter recalls the days of the 15-meter wheeled-escape ladder, predecessor to today's 13.5-meter extension ladder:
"It takes a crew of 4 to pitch the 135, where as the escape could (if the adrenaline was pumping) be slipped and pitched by one person, a crew of 2 was an easy job, and crews of 3 and 4 was luxury.
"Number 4 then had to hang on the escape to test if it was secure.
"Number 4 was also the person who had to run along the lengths of hose to make sure they were not kinked, run out the hydrant and before we had hand held radios, convey all the orders by running from number 1 to the pump operator (number 2) and then run back to repeat the order to ensure it was correct.
"The number always 3 stayed with number 1 at the branch.
January 23, 2013
It happened in the London fog.
On Jan. 16, 2013, a helicopter clipped a construction crane over central London and plunged to the ground during the morning rush hour .
Helicopter pilot, Pete Barnes, 50, and pedestrian Matthew Wood, 39, died in the fiery wreck.
Crane operator Nicki Biagioni avoided what newspapers called an almost certain death because he was late for work.
"The Met Office said at the time of the crash the area was prone to widespread low cloud, poor visibility and patches of freezing fog," according to the BBC.
Jan. 16, 2013
WANDSWORTH ROAD, SW 8
NINE ELMS LANE, SW 8
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Six fire engines, four fire rescue units, a number of other specialist vehicles, 88 firefighters and officers attended a helicopter crash near Wandsworth Road in Vauxhall today. Firefighters have now brought the fire under control.
The police have confirmed that two people died at the scene. Fire crews rescued a man from a burning car. London Ambulance Service took six people to hospital and treated seven people at the scene.
Two office buildings were damaged by debris from the helicopter. Five cars and two motorbikes were also damaged in the crash.
Fifty seven firefighters and officers also attended a crane which was left in a precarious position at Saint Georges Wharf, SW8 as a result of the helicopter crash. Around 600 construction workers self evacuated and around 40 homes were evacuated by the police.
Specialist Urban Search and Rescue crews worked with specialist contractors to assess the damage and make the area safe. The incident has now been handed over to the police and an aviation accident investigation team.
The Brigade's fire boat has also carried out a precautionary search of the river.
The Brigade was called at 0800. The fire was out within 20 minutes and the helicopter crash incident was over for the Brigade at 1137.
October 18, 2012
Job cuts and/or early retirement are also on the table.
A union official calls the plan the biggest threat to the brigade since World War II.
That's not an exaggeration in Clerkenwell's case.
German bombs narrowly missed the 19th Century-era fire station during the blitz.
On Aug. 17, the BBC released the following "leaked" list of stations:
- New Cross
They properties would probably fetch considerable sums if put up for sale.
The Evening Standard said some engines would be re-assigned to Chiswick, East Greenwich, Euston, Hendon, Orpington, Purley, Southgate, Stanmore and Twickenham.
The bottom line: Fewer fire engines and fewer firefighters on London's streets.
October 11, 2012
October 08, 2012
At 8:19 a.m. on Oct. 8, 1952, disaster struck at the Harrow and Wealdstone rail station in northwest London.
An express train crashed into the rear of a local making a scheduled stop.
Seconds later, a third train traveling in the opposite direction plowed into the wreckage.
Rescuers used acetylene torches to reach people entwined in the wreckage.
The accident claimed 112 lives.
The Ministry of Transport concluded the express train passed a caution and two danger signals heading into the station.
"Some of the victims were on the platform as carriages full of commuters were hurled onto them," the BBC reported that day.
"Others were killed on a footbridge over the track that was punctured by a pile of coaches."
September 10, 2012
By Vinny Del Giudice
Editor, London Fire Journal
On July 9, 1861, the steamship Arago arrived in New York from England with a newspaper correspondent’s report on a conflagration at Tooley Street, London.
The blaze, which broke out June 22 and burned for days, claimed the life of James Braidwood, superintendent of the London Fire Engine Establishment.
Braidwood, admired far and wide for his skill and bravery, pioneered the modern fire service.
The former fire master of Edinburgh shaped London’s disorganized and undisciplined insurance company-sponsored brigades into an effective force.
In his 28 years at the helm in London, Braidwood accomplished more in the field of firefighting and fire prevention than anyone before him - even kings and parliament.
Braidwood was a Scot.
In organizing Edinburgh’s fire force:
The book was considered ground-breaking and led to Braidwood's appointment as superintendent of the London Fire Engine Establishment in 1833.
His new brigade was funded by London’s insurance companies and staffed by 80 full-time fire-fighters at 13 stations who wore a functional grey uniform -- designed by Braidwood -- with knee-high boots and black leather helmets.
Men who had served in the Royal Navy received preference in hiring for their discipline, strength and training.
The new brigade faced a major challenge when the Houses of Parliament burned on Oct. 16, 1834.
The blaze started in a basement furnace and spread rapidly.
Seeing the fire was well-advanced, Braidwood directed his force to concentrate on saving Westminster Hall and checking the spread of the flame to other structures.
In that, they succeeded.
Even so, the fire was considered a national tragedy.
In the aftermath of blaze, Braidwood pursued an aggressive effort to reduce the numbers through safer building construction.
In a letter to the Times of London newspaper, [fire.org.uk] Braidwood wrote:
The causes of the fire proceeding so rapidly in the work of destruction I believe to be as follows:
1 The total want of party walls.
2 The passages which intersected the building in every direction and acted as funnels to convey the fire.
3 The repeated alterations in the buildings which had been made with more regard to expedient then to security.
4 The immense quantity of timber used in the exterior.
5 The great depth and extent of the buildings.
6 A smart breeze of wind.
7 An indifferent supply of water which, though amply sufficient for any ordinary occasion, was inadequate for such an immense conflagration.
8 My own and the firemen's total ignorance of the localities of the place. In fires in private dwellings, warehouses, or manufactories, some idea may generally be formed on the division of the inside of the premises from observing the appearances of the outside, but in the present case that rule was useless.
The primary role of the London Fire Engine Establishment was the protection and salvage of property as it was funded by the insurance industry.
Life safety was of secondary concern.
In 1836, the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire was organized separate of Braidwood's brigade to place wheeled ladders throughout London.
The wooden "escapes" could reach as high as 60 feet.
The cumbersome but effective apparatus were operated by "conductors" who were employed by the society and underwent months of training.
(The use of wooden escape ladders continued into the 1970s and 1980s on motorized vehicles).
The firemen of London Fire Engine Establishment and the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire worked closely throughout the Braidwood era.
In 1854, for example, they conducted a number of rescues in a blaze at Raggett's hotel in central London while Braidwood directed the fire-fighting.
Braidwood's final fire at Tooley Street broke out at Cotton's Wharf, a six-story warehouse storing hemp, jute, cotton and other commodities.
According to a sketch of Braidwood:
Braidwood's funeral procession stretched for a mile and a half through London with thousands in attendance.
Church bells tolled and public houses remained open through the night.
On the 150th anniversary of the Tooley Street Fire, the London Fire Brigade published the following account on its website:
By 6 p.m., 14 fire engines, including a steam fire engine and the floating engine, were all at the fire. The fire spread quickly throughout the workhouses as the iron fire doors, that separated many of the storage rooms, had been left open.
It is believed that if they had been closed, as recommended by James Braidwood the Superintendent of the LFEE, the fire may have burnt out, avoiding disaster.
It has been suggested that the fire was so fierce because the firefighters couldn’t get a supply of water for nearly an hour.
This was made even more difficult as the Thames was at low tide.
Whilst the firefighters were tackling the blaze Braidwood noticed how tired they were getting and ordered that every firefighter receive a ‘nip’ of brandy.
While he was assisting one of his firefighters the front section of a warehouse collapsed on top of him, killing him instantly.
September 04, 2012
August 31, 2012
"On 10th October 1957, Pile 1 at Windscale in West Cumbria was on fire. There was no smoke and no flames and most local people were oblivious to what is generally seen as the world's first nuclear accident." - BBC
August 26, 2012
"The floor was heaving with couples. Suddenly, there was an immense blue flash. Two bombs had hit the building, hurtled down a ventilation shaft from the roof and exploded right in front of the band. The dead and dying were heaped everywhere. Champagne was cracked open to clean wounds."
Among those fatally injured was Meg Hargrove, a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service, whose name appears on the U.K. Firefighters National Memorial.
August 24, 2012
During the 2012 Olympics, a smoke column from a 40-pump fire at a recycling plant in London's Dagenham district was visible several miles away - at the Olympic Park.
“We’ve not seen a fire of this size in London for several years," London Fire Commissioner Roy Dobson told the BBC.
"It’s certainly a dramatic end to the Olympics for the London Fire Brigade," Dobson said.
The blaze broke out on Aug. 12, 2012 and fire crews remained on the scene for an extended period.
Fire cover at the Olympic wasn't affected, the Evening Standard reported.
That wasn't the only notable fire related to the Olympics.
On Aug. 8, an outdoor barbecue fueled by gas cylinders exploded into flames at a venue for New Zealand fans.
Three hundred people were evacuated from Kiwi House in central London, according to the fire brigade.
Richard Welch, station manager at the Poplar fire station, told the Press Association: "People in the vicinity reported hearing an explosion."
August 05, 2012
On May 27, 1845, fire swept Raggett's - a popular hotel in Piccadilly.
``Several eminent persons perished,'' according to Haydn's Dictionary of Dates and Universal Information, including the wife of a Member of Parliament , the owner of the hotel and his daughter.
Firemen, led by the legendary chief James Braidwood, saved a number of guests with escape ladders, demonstrating the value of the wheeled appartus.
Queen Victoria witnessed the progress of the flames from her palace.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
May 27, 2012
A tip of the helmet and thank you to Canadian firefighter Huw Jones for alerting us to a link to "I Was a Fireman" - a movie about the 1940-41 blitz.
This realistic 1942 film - originally titled "Fires Were Started" - focuses on a day in the life of Fire Station 14-Y of the London Auxiliary Fire Service.
The cast is composed of actual firefighters, though none received credits.
On the hose line in photo are "Jacko" (left) and "The Colonel" (right). Supervising is Sub-Officer Dyke. (These are the character names.)
The film was directed by Humphrey Jennings for the government propaganda office.
Click here to view movie
May 17, 2012
March 22, 2012
February 14, 2012
February 11, 2012
On Aug. 15, 1980, a man ejected from a Soho night club returned with a can of gasoline and set a blaze that killed 37 people - London's deadliest fire since the blitz.
In early 2012, a reader of the London Fire Journal requested assistance in locating the wife of a relative who died in that tragedy. The reader, from Panama, had lost touch with the relative's wife shortly after the fire and life moved on.
On April 14, 2012, the Fire Journal received information from London that helped bring the case to a close. We are pleased to report it appears to be a happy ending!
CLICK HERE FOR FIRE STORY
February 10, 2012
January 17, 2012
Only in the Fire Journal!
A reader is Canada recently asked the London Fire Journal for assistance in locating information on London firefighter George Frederick Garley, pictured above, who served at the Cannon Street station in 1924.
Many thanks to a reader in the U.K. who provided this information:
"G F Garley was awarded his LFB LSGC medal in April 1936, this means he would have joined the brigade in about 1921.In 1931 he was serving at Holloway, moving at some point to Stoke Newington where he received his medal in 1936. He was still there in Sept 1940 so he is certainly a "blitz" fireman."
UPDATED: Feb. 11, 2012
December 01, 2011
"POWERFUL JETS OF WATER discharged from many hoses were played on a big fire in an oils and colours warehouse at Southwark, London, from extended ladders and other vantage points. Often there is no building opposite from which water can be directed into a blaze, and then the use of extended ladders is all-important."
For more visit: Mike's Engineering Wonders
"THE POWERFUL MOTOR EXTENDING LADDER used by the Wimbledon (London) Fire Brigade is made entirely of steel, and extends to a height of 70 feet. The ladder is fixed to a turntable mounted on a chassis and operated by power from the motor. Hand levers control the gears for raising, extending, lowering and revolving the ladder."
For more visit: Mike's Engineering Wonders
Press Release - November 2011
London Fire Brigade has swooped to close a number of commercial buildings being used as living accommodation after uncovering some of the worst fire risks safety officers have ever seen.
Fire safety inspectors in Wembley have issued six “prohibition notices” on separate buildings being used as living accommodation on an industrial estate in the Alperton area. So far approximately 150 people have been found living in six premises.
The Brigade was alerted to the problem following a fire in an office block on Mount Pleasant at the end of October where firefighters rescued six people.
A subsequent inspection of the building revealed seventeen rooms with over 50 people living in them. Fire safety officers found virtually no fire safety features inside, such as fire protection between different floors, and extremely limited means of escape.
Inspectors say that a more fire serious fire could easily have ripped through the entire building and residents would have struggled to escape.
Investigations into who owned the property led officers to another building on nearby Beresford Avenue.
When they visited the offices, above a garage, on 9 November, they found similar potentially lethal conditions providing housing for 21 people, including three children.
The Brigade was then alerted to four more properties in the area housing a total of around 80 people.
November 24, 2011
October 21, 2011
On Sept. 24, 2011, six members of the Kua family died in a house fire in Neasden, northwest London.
The fire apparently started in a freezer.
"Flames were belting out the front two windows," neighbor Joe Lyons told Sky News.
Glen Gorman, a London Fire Brigade station manager, said: "Firefighters were faced with very intense heat and smoke. It was a very difficult situation to deal with.
The blaze was London's deadlist house fire in more than a decade, the BBC said.
In the aftermath, the London Fire Brigade launched "a fire safety blitz" to warn of household hazards.
In 2009, a fire at the Lakanal House apartment block in south London also claimed six lives in 2009.
6 PUMP FATAL FIRE
SONIA GARDENS, NEASDEN, LONDON.
Semi detached house of 2 floors, 8 metres by 8 metres, 70% of ground floor and 70% of 1st floor damaged by fire, 2 x 45mm jets, hosereel, breathing apparatus, thermal image camera, immediate emergency care pack, 1 adult, 1 infant and 3 children found on 1st floor apparently dead, 1 child rescued by breathing apparatus crew from 1st floor via internal staircase, subsequently confirmed dead by HEMS doctor, 1 female adult suffering from burns and smoke inhalation rescued by breathing apparatus crew from 1st floor via internal staircase removed, 1 male adult escaped before arrival of brigade suffering from burns and smoke inhalation removed, all persons accounted for.
August 09, 2011
UPDATED OCTOBER 2011
In early August 2011, the London Fire Brigade contended with rioting that started in Tottenham and spread across the city.
"Firefighters are either fighting or trying to get to a number of fires across the capital," the fire brigade said Aug. 8. "Fires involve commercial and residential buildings, cars and rubbish bins."
Violence was reported in Hackney, Lewisham, Peckham, Croydon, Brixton, Enfield Town, Walthamstow, Newham and Southwark in the aftermath of a police shooting.
Fire crews "were threatened as they tried to put out fires," the Press Association reported.
Rioters damaged fire engines from Brixton, West Norwood and Edmonton, according to the fire brigade.
Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to restore order and recalled Parliament in response to "sickening scenes" in London and other cities, the BBC said.
However, former London Mayor Ken Livingstone attributed the violence to government economic policy and spending reductions:
"As when Margaret Thatcher imposed such policies during her recessions this creates the threat of people losing control, acting in completely unacceptable ways that threaten everyone, and culminating in events of the type we saw in Tottenham."
Livingstone was quoted by the Socialist newspaper, The Morning Star.
MAJOR FIRES IN LONDON
Night of Aug. 8-9
Barking and Dagenham
1 X Six Pump Fire @ 23:12
1 X Four Pump Fire @ 20:35
1 X Ten Pump Fire @ 20:54 (Reeves Corner)
[SITUATION REPORT @ 0700: "Shop of 2 floors 30 metres by 30 metres, 100 percent alight. All persons not yet accounted for. Crews unable to make search due to intensity of fire. Breathing apparatus, 3 jets in use"]
1 X Four Pump Fire @ 23:44
1 X Six Pump Fire @ 04:13
1 X Six Pump Fire @ 23:18
1 X Eleven Pump Fire @ 23:49
[SITUATION REPORT @ 0700: "Single storey warehouse, 150 metres by 75 metres, 100 percent alight. 2 jets, 5 ground monitors, 2 aerial monitors in use, steady progress being made. "]
1 X Four Pump Fire @ 22:13
1 X Four Pump Fire @ 00:04
1 X Four Pump Fire @ 22:12
1 X Four Pump Fire @ 03:07
1 X Eight Pump Fire @ 00:07
August 08, 2011
A London furniture store that stood for more than 100 years was destroyed in the August 2011 riots, according to the Daily Mirror.
Croydon family business Reeves - which stood on Reeves Corner, named for the shop - was torched as the violence spread.
Owner Trevor Reeves told Sky News: "Words fail me. It's just gone, it's five generations. My father is distraught at the moment. It's just mindless thuggery."
February 24, 2011
February 11, 2011
February 10, 2011
DEATH OF LONDON LANDMARK: Clothing store Gardiner gave its name to the junction Gardiner's Corner, which brought together the main thoroughfares of East London. In 1972, fire gutted the century-old building and caused the clock tower to collapse. The business had closed the year before the fire.