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.”

NINE LIVES


A cat's nine lives: This feline, accompanied by an air raid warden, is one of the lucky ones. It is estimated hundreds of thousands of pets died during the Blitz.

October 17, 2013

ST. KATHARINE'S DOCK


Photo: East London Advertiser
Fire boats in action at St. Katharine's Dock, near Tower Bridge, on Sept. 7, 1940, at the start of the Blitz.

October 02, 2013

WOMEN'S BRIGADE


Photo: Topical Press Agency 
Women's Fire Brigade at hose and ladder drill during First World War in March 1916.

DUCK FIRE

Photo: BBC website
On Sept. 29, 2013, fire erupted on the London Duck Tours craft Cleopatra on the Thames in London. Thirty people were rescued.

PENSION STRIKE


UPDATED

On Sept. 25, 2013, firefighters in England and Wales staged a four-hour strike over pensions. It was  the first nationwide industrial action in the U.K. fire service in a decade. Additional firefighter walkouts continued into December.

June 28, 2013

WOOLWORTH - 1979

Photo: Skyscraper City

Photo: Manchester Libraries


Photo: Woolworths Museum
On May 8, 1979, flames swept a Woolworth store in central Manchester, England, killing 10 people and injuring 47 others. 

The fire started in an electrical cable and spread to furniture made of flammable polyurethane foam.

There were about 500 people in the store at the the time.

Among the victims was Woolworth employee Cyril Baldwin, 68, who served as an auxiliary fireman during World War Two and died trying to save others.

According to the UK Fire Service website:

The Station Officer immediately sent a message to “Make Pumps 10″. Rescues were started from a 13.5m extension ladder and from the cage of the hydraulic platform. Other members of the public were found at ground level and were brought out to safety. At 13.35, an ADO arrived and requested a turntable ladder to rescue a man seen on the top floor. By now other appliances were arriving and further 13.5m ladders were pitched to the barred windows.

Attempts to pry open the bars were made using pick axes and crow bars, whilst cutting gear was made ready. These attempts were unsuccessful. An air-operated saw was then used. Firemen managed to cut two of the bars then bend them outward to enable the rescue six persons. Two of the women need urgent administration of oxygen when they were removed.
At 13.42, two jets had been laid up an internal staircase from Oldham Street to the second floor by BA crews. These crews found terrible conditions with intense heat and smoke preventing further penetration into the building, even though they had been on their hands and knees in an attempt to get underneath the heat layer. At 13.42 a Divisional Officer took over command and sent “Make Pumps 15″.
In the meantime, a second hydraulic platform had rescued a woman from a toilet window at second floor level, and had now started to remove a further twelve persons from the roof. A fireman had been taken to the roof level in the hydraulic platform cage and had remained on the roof whilst the rescues were carried out, calming those awaiting rescue. By 13.45 all those that had been seen calling for help at the windows and on the roof had been rescued.
A second jet this time to the first floor was laid up the Oldham Street staircase and was used by BA crews to tackle a fire that involved the escalator. This team was then tasked with making their way to the second floor which was fully on fire. Another BA crew also started to tackle the second floor fire, this time entry was by stairs from Piccadilly. At 1354 the message “Make Pumps 20″ was sent.
BA Crews using jets from the head of two 13.5 ladders and protected by covering jets from pavement level attacked the fire on the second floor from the frontage of the store. Two other jets were now laid into the back of the second floor from Piccadilly, even though the padlocked and chained doors had made access difficult. A further rescue was carried out from the top floor by turntable ladder. The Assistant Chief Officer took over the incident at 14.15. Eight jets were now being worked into the second floor, and conditions finally started to improve.
Three bodies were now found only 6 ft. from the exit doorway three others were found a short distance further away. Four others were also found on this floor in various other locations. Hydraulic platforms being used to fight the fire were constantly having to stop work due to them hindering work carried out inside by BA crews. At 15.00 one BA team had to be rescued by turntable ladder after they had been cut off after having traversed the third floor and made their way to the roof. 
Another crew had been cut off by collapsing stock within the store and were rescued from a window by an HP. The fire had now died down, but severe smoke logging continued. It was decided to use a high-expansion foam generator for smoke extraction purposes. The Message “Fire Surrounded” was sent at 15.51, the fire now being almost out and conditions having improved to allow a thorough search of the building.

June 27, 2013

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON




"In the early afternoon of Saturday 6 March 1926 a man was cycling down Chapel Lane in Stratford when he spotted smoke coming from the roof of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in front of him. He immediately took action to raise the alarm, but found the fire had already taken hold. The building was full of smoke and timber could be heard cracking." - The Shakespeare Blog 

May 29, 2013

FIRE OVER LONDON


HEATHROW AIRPORT LONDON - May 24, 2013

"One Airbus A319 with seventy-five passengers and five crew on board landed on Runway 27 Right following an engine cowling failure on take-off, causing hydraulic failure to right engine and fire in right engine.  Aircraft turned around.  On landing Heathrow Fire Service extinguished engine fire and carried out a full evacuation of aircraft.  Two passengers injured during evacuation, one suffering from hyperventilation and one with a sprained wrist.  Both treated by London Ambulance Service on scene.  Aircraft powered off and returned to stand under supervision of Airport Fire Service." - Brigade Control Information Bulletin

May 24, 2013

ESSEX HOTEL - 1969



 
 
In the early hours of the day after Christmas 1969, fire swept a small hotel in Essex, killing 11 people. The blaze led to reforms in U.K. fire safety regulations. 


The Rose & Crown Hotel in Saffron Waldron, Essex is a 16th century coaching in which was extended and modernised in the 19th century. It is in the centre of the town and faced onto the market square. The hotel consisted of floors and a basement. In the early hours of Friday December 26th a small fire, is believed to have started in a television set. This fire was to spread and eventually 11 people would be dead. The Hotel was full and had 33 guests staying, having just celebrated Christmas. The television in the hotels lounge had been left plugged in.
 
At about 01.30am two guests having smelt smoke left their rooms on the first floor to investigate. They discovered the fire in the lounge so left the building and attempted to call the Fire Brigade. At the same time a local passer by spotted the pair panicking with the location of fire. He took the phone from them and gave accurate details to the brigade control operator. The time was now 01.47am. He then ran to the Hotel and operated the fire alarm before assisting in the rescue of 2 of the residents.
 
The Fire Brigade responded quickly, the appliances booking mobile the incident at 01.52. This first attendance, the pump and Pump Escape from Station No 79 Saffron Waldron were greeted by the sight of the hotel well alight. They had only had to travel 200 yard from their fire station to get to the incident. As said above, 33 people were staying in the premises, 9 of which needed immediate rescue using the appliances wheeled 50 foot escape ladder, an extension ladder and a first floor ladder. Three guests jumped to safety and the two guests who had discovered the fire had also left. 5 other guests were rescued by locals who had arrived to assist the brigade. These people commandeered builder’s ladders to assist in the rescues.
 
At 01.57am an assistance message was sent which read “Make Pumps 4, BA 6″. This was followed at 01.59am by a further make up message which read “Make Pumps 10, BA 10, Turntable required. In the meantime BA crews had been ordered to search the rear of the building in a bid to find those guests still missing. The crew managed to search the ground floor, and first floor, but due to the severe conditions they couldn’t proceed to the second floor. These crews were withdrawn and put to work assisting rescues from the front of the premises. Eventually having travelled a considerable distance other appliances arrived. The crews were ordered to assist in rescuing guests from upper floors at the side of the hotel. They were to help 3 persons escape to safety. Two men slid down from a 3rd floor window via a short pitched roof, then fell into the hotels yard. The sustained injuries as they fell.
 
As further assistance arrived, crews started to carry out a more thorough search of the rear area. Here they found 6 bodies. A further 5 bodies were found in rooms at the front of the building. These 11 guests sadly never escaped the fire. They were trapped by the heat and smoke. All of those who died were found on the 2nd and 3rd floors. They had died in the early stages of this fire as a result of a build up of heat and fumes.
 
The risk of death was increased due to other guests leaving doors or windows open in their bid to save their own lives. Leaving these open allowed heat and smoke to spread throughout the hotel far easier. Some fire resisting doors were fitted within the hotel, but the mechanisms used to keep the doors shut after use had failed allowing them to remain open. The fire alarm, even though operated at the early stage of the fire failed to continue to operate and warn residents of the unfolding disaster. It was found after the fire that the wiring to the alarm had been burned through in the early stages of the incident.
 
In total 12 appliances attend this incident. 12 jets were used along with a TL monitor supplied by 5 pumps set into 5 different fire hydrants to fight this tragic fire. This fire was one of a number of hotel fires which gave added impetus to the passing of the Fire Precautions Act in 1971.
 
In 1972, hotels and boarding houses were the first premises to be designated as requiring a fire certificate under the act.
 

BUTLERS WHARF - 1931


Photo: Private Collection
“Moderate or fresh East or North East winds; bright intervals; snow showers; very cold” - This was London’s gloomy forecast for Saturday 7 March, 1931.
 
In Chelsea, athletes due to represent Oxford and Cambridge universities that afternoon at Stamford Bridge, read the forecast, looked to the sky, and prophesied slower times and shorter jumps.
 
In Southwark, at the headquarters of the London Fire Brigade, firemen read the same forecast, looked at the same sky, and wondered why they chose a career that made them get up on such a morning.
 
In a warehouse at Butler’s Wharf near London a fire was in its infancy.
 
Shortly after 10o’clock the Brigade was called for; the bells went down and firemen, their breath condensing beneath brass helmets, scrambled aboard their machines and sped to the scene.
 
A pall of black smoke hung over Shad Thames and as they drew nearer the acrid fumes of burning rubber stung their nostrils.
 
The fireboats Alpha and Beta ploughed their way towards the wharf and crowds gathered to watch the spectacle.
 
On arrival the firemen immediately got to work and attacked the blaze from the street and adjoining premises, they even used the cargo ship “Teal” as a standing platform. In charge of these operations was the Chief Officer, Mr. Arthur Reginald Dyer, and also on hand were the men of the London Salvage Corps under the command of Captain Miles.
 
The Brigade managed to confine the blaze to the single building but it was a long time before the last flame was quenched.
 
All day it burned and when darkness fell searchlights were brought into action.
 
Compared with other conflagrations this fire was not very large, but it was the unbelievably cold conditions that made the fireman’s job so difficult.
 
Water froze as it ran down the walls; sheets of ice spreading across the road made even the most limited of movements hazardous and everywhere hung monstrous icicles like the serpents of Medusa after her decapitation by Perseus.
 
We will leave the last words on the subject to another, more qualified to speak; “The temperature was so low that all branches had to be wrapped in sacking, or it would have been impossible to hold them"
 
From London Fireman, December 1966

Via U.K. Fire Service website

BOLTON CLUB - 1961



Gutted windows - The club occupied top floors of old mill

Fire broke out at the Top Storey Club in Bolton, Lancashire, on May 1, 1961, killing 19 people. Five of the victims died attempting to jump from the club into a canal.

From Lost Pubs of Bolton website


Of all the pubs and clubs in Bolton the Top Storey club on Crown Street was one of the shortest-lived but was without a doubt the most tragic after 19 people lost their lives.

The club was situated in an old mill close to where the multi-story car park now stands and backed on to the open River Croal. It was opened in December 1960 by Mr Stanley Wilcock, who rented the building for his business, Gregg Construction Company, which made kitchen furniture on the lower floors.

Mr Wilcock had the idea of converting the top two floors into a nightclub but by March 1961 he had sold out to two Manchester businessmen, Denis Wilson and Richard Sorrensen ,although he continued to use the lower floors for the kitchen furniture business.

However, the owners of the building were concerned about the idea of a nightclub in the building having only learnt of its existence after seeing an advert in the Bolton Evening News. They considered that the building was unsuitable for licensed premises and at 10.35pm on Monday 1 May 1961 one of the building’s owners, Mr Norman Balshaw, went to the Top Storey club to give Wilson and Sorrensen notice that the club had to close and that they must be out by 24 June.

Mr Balshaw saw the two men in the club office on the ground floor and Wilson and Sorrensen then went upstairs to join the club’s customers.

The Top Storey club wasn’t particularly large and there can’t have been room for more than 100 people in there. On that Monday night, 1 May 1961, there can’t have been more than about 25 people in the club. The layout was just a few tables and chairs arranged down the two sides of the wall with a small space in the middle of the floor. Customers listened to tape recorded music or played on an elaborate one-armed bandit that was a feature of the club.

In 2001 one of the survivors of the fire, Jack Breen, told the Bolton Evening News that he was sitting at the end of the bar at about eleven o’clock with the club’s manager Bill Bohannon. Bill thought he could smell smoke and went down the rickety single flight of wooden steps that was the sole means of entry and exit at the club. When Mr Bohannon got to the ground floor he noticed smoke coming from under the door which led to the workshops.

He kicked in the door but found himself looking into a blazing inferno. He tried to get back upstairs, but was forced back by the intense heat. Upstairs, the first Jack Breen knew about it was when all the lights went out. There was then an explosion that took all the oxygen out of the room but he managed to make his way to a window that had been blown out by the explosion. He stood on the ledge but passed out and fell 80 feet. He woke up in Bolton Royal Infirmary with 20 per cent burns and a badly-damaged hand but he was one of the lucky ones. Nineteen people lost their lives in the fire, five from falls from the windows and 14 who died in the bar area.



Top photos show aftermath of fire

Thomas Cardwell, a fireman on the scene that night, described the scene to the Bolton Evening News in 2001. When the fire brigade arrived they found their turntable ladders were too short to reach the top storey of the building.

"The screams just gradually faded away,” he told the paper.

"The building was full of smoke, more smoke than flames really by then, but it was still very warm. The staircase was completely gone and we had to put ladders up inside the building to get to the top floor."

He goes on to describe the scene in the club itself.

"There were bodies all piled up near the bar. No-one inside that room who had not jumped had lived.

"The bodies weren't very burned, though. They were just quite pink -- almost like they'd been on their holidays.

"But they were piled up in two areas, one with about three bodies and another of about 12. They had panicked when they couldn't get out and were just piled together, like a pack of cards."

Firemen from Horwich, Radcliffe and Leigh joined those from Bolton and it took two-and-a-half hours to get the fire under control. The body of one lad who leapt from the club into the River Croal was found downstream a mile away from the scene of the fire.

The club’s owners, Denis Wilson and Richard Sorrensen, were among the dead as was Sheila Bohannon, the wife of manager Bill Bohannon. It was later suggested that figures in the Manchester underworld had a grudge against Mr Sorrensen and were responsible for the fire though nothing was ever proved.


As a result of the Top Storey fire legislation was written in to the Licencing Act 1964 giving more power to fire authorities to close down clubs considered to be fire hazards, while some fire authorities enacted part of the 1961 Act that had recently come into force.

The cause of the fire was never discovered and an inquest returned an open verdict on all 19 dead.

HEATHROW - 1968





On July 3, 1968, an Airspeed Ambassador propeller aircraft carrying eight racehorses slammed into two parked jets at London's Heathrow Airport and cartwheeled into Terminal 1, which was then under construction. Six of eight people aboard the aircraft were killed. The racehorses also died. Another 31 people on the ground were injured. The accident was blamed on a mechanical problem. The aircraft was operated by BKS Air Transport. It had been recently converted to carry horses.

May 23, 2013

WORLD WAR I


Photo: Imperial War Museums
Firemen at Cox's Court off Little Britain in the City of London after air raid on July 7, 1917.

From Friends of London Fire Museum

German Zeppelins and aircraft attacked London during World War I.  

There were in all 25 raids on London, 7 by Zeppelins and 18 by aircraft, 22 took place at night, 3 by day.

On a yearly basis there were 4 in 1915, 3 in 1916, 13 in 1917 and 5 in 1918.

A total of 524 people were killed and 1264 injured.

Having been warned by the military authorities of the approach and direction of airships, on some occasions the LFB were able to anticipate the likely target area and concentrate motor engines accordingly, an example being 13/14 October 1915 when motor engines were concentrated at Woolwich, with its Royal Arsenal, before the arrival of the attacking Zeppelin, the resultant fires caused by the 24 incendiary bombs dropped being quickly contained.  

On 7 July 1917 a particularly serious daylight air-raid took place on the City, carried out by Gotha IV bombers, killing 44, injuring 121 and causing three serious fires, one at the Central Telegraph Office in St Martins-le-Grand in the City.

This prompted Chief Officer Sladen to recommend three measures to meet the air-raid situation (a) return former LFB firemen from the armed forces - one officer, 174 men from the navy and two officers, 68 men from the army (b) provide additional Royal Engineers sappers during air-raids and (c) create a Metropolitan scheme of fire brigade assistance during air-raids or expected air-raids.

These measures were quickly agreed by the government including a scheme for fire brigade reinforcement during air-raids, established by the Fire Brigade (Metropolitan Area) Order 1917, under Defence of the Realm Regulation 55B.

This designated the Metropolitan Police District plus Watford, Dartford and Egham Urban Districts - over 750 square miles - a Special Fire Brigade Area in September 1917, and comprised 90 local authority fire brigades including the LFB.

The Chief Officer of the LFB was appointed the Mobilising Officer in charge of the scheme, the Senior Superintendent being the Assistant MO and an additional District Officer post created as the Deputy MO, the scheme coming into operation in October 1917. 

Hydrant and coupling adaptors were issued to meet the problem posed by the varying patterns of connections used by participating brigades, which also undertook training for the scheme.

Predetermined appliance moves were worked out by which motor engines from outer London brigades stood-by at LFB stations from where they were despatched to incidents as required.

 Throughout the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Area (MFBA) 11 motor engines from 10 brigades were on 1st Move call to send an engine to stand-by at LFB stations, subject to the dispatch and arrival of an LFB motor escape to stand-by at their home station.

A second group of 14 brigades were to keep a motor engine in readiness to dispatch if required under the 2nd Move.

If dispatched, predetermined adjacent brigades covered their home station or moved up to stand-by in turn.

To assist identification each engine in the scheme was numbered from 100 onwards commencing with the Kodak Fire Brigade, examples being Wimbledon - 101 and Ilford - 135.  The LFB reinforced or stood-by in the opposite direction as necessary.

First Move reinforcement mobilising was subsequently implemented 19 times with 2nd Move being required only once, on 6 December 1917, an example being motor engines from Wembley and Twickenham attending a fire in Shoreditch.

On other occasions a number of outer engines were moved by the Mobilising Officer outside the 1st & 2nd Move procedure. (Similar Fire Brigade Area Schemes were established during 1918/19 in the North Eastern, South Western, West Midland and North Western English Regions.)

Of the 25 air raids in the London County Council LFB area the worst single bombing incident was that at the Odhams Printing works in Long Acre, Covent Garden on 28 January 1918 when a 660 lb bomb from a Staaken Giant hit the building, 38 being killed or later dying of injuries received and over 85 being injured, the basement then being used as a public air-raid shelter holding c.500 people at the time.

The Brigade rescued survivors and later recovered the dead. While in no way comparable to the aerial attacks of the Second World War sufficient death, injury and damage were inflicted by these air raids to cause serious concern. 

Several LFB stations were damaged by enemy action including Edgware Road, Belsize, Knightsbridge, Shoreditch, Whitechapel, Pageants Wharf, Waterloo Road, Streatham and Northcote Road.

During the raid of 8 September 1915 two incidents took place which led to the posthumous award of medals for gallantry to two members of the brigade.

Fireman C.A.Henley, on duty at one of the last remaining Street Stations in Bartholomew Close in the City, was rendered unconscious when a bomb exploded nearby, destroying the station. 

On recovering he rescued a woman from an adjacent damaged building and conveyed her to nearby St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, returning to get a jet to work from a hydrant until relieved by arriving fire crews, but later died from injuries received at this incident.

He was posthumously awarded the Kings Police Medal. 

During the same raid, at a fire caused by enemy action at Furnival Inn, Lambs Conduit Passage, Holborn, Fireman J. S. Green, following participation in earlier rescues and attempting a further rescue of persons reported on an upper floor, was badly burned and later died of his injuries, for which he was posthumously awarded the Council’s Silver Medal.

Two Station Officers were also awarded the Kings Police Medal for meritorious service in leading and co-ordinating firefighting and rescue work following air raids - StnO W.Gardiner of No. 24 Station Brunswick Road at an incident near his station in Poplar on 24 September 1916, and StnO T.M.Crane at the Odhams Printing Works incident at Long Acre, Covent Garden on 29 January 1918.

A fire and explosion at Brunner-Mond's munitions factory at Crescent Wharf, North Woolwich Road, Silvertown on the evening of 19 January 1917 killed 73 people and injured over 400 others.

Among those killed were two firefighters - Sub-Officer H. Vickers and Fireman F Sell - in attendance from West Ham Fire Brigade's nearby Silvertown station, which was wrecked and where several members of firefighters' families were killed and injured.  

Shrapnel from this explosion also caused a serious fire in a large gasometer at Blackwall and at the East Greenwich Gas Works on the opposite side of the river as well as triggering numerous street alarm calls to various parts of East and South East London by people who had seen the glow of the fire in the night sky.

This put under pressure an LFB already dealing with the Blackwall, East Greenwich and other resultant fires and in process of providing extensive reinforcements to West Ham Fire Brigade at the original incident. 

The LFB sent 29 pumps and two floats and fire brigade reliefs were maintained for 10 days. 

Six members of the West Ham FB were later given awards for bravery at this fire. 

A motor engine was subsequently stationed at LFB’s North Woolwich station while Silvertown Fire Station was reconstructed.

Consequent upon this and other fires and explosions in munitions plants and military depots elsewhere in Britain, in July 1918 a further order, the Fire Brigades (Metropolitan Area) Order 1918, provided for fire brigade reinforcement throughout the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Area to be extended to fires in such establishments.

With the end of the war these government sponsored reinforcing arrangements lapsed, being formally terminated in August 1921. 

The largest death toll of LFB members in a fire not resulting from enemy action occurred at a cattle feed factory at Albert Embankment in the early hours of a fog-bound 30 January 1918.  Seven members of the brigade - two Sub-Officers, W. E. Cornford and W. W. Hall and five firemen, E. J. Fairbrother, W. H. Jash, J. W. C. Johnson, A. A. Page and J. E. Fay - perished under a wall collapse during the latter stages of the incident.

A Superintendent and a Station Officer were also injured. 

Ironically, this was later to become the site of Brigade Headquarters.

In common with the rest of the population, the Brigade was affected by the influenza epidemic which swept the country during 1918/19 and suffered staffing difficulties as a consequence.

In all, 224 fires and other incidents caused by enemy action were attended by the London Fire Brigade and 138 persons rescued, for which members of the brigade were awarded 3 King's Police Medals, 1 Silver Medal and 43 Commendations (one KPM and 35 Commendation   recipients were later awarded BEMs); members of assisting bodies also received commendations as follows: London Salvage Corps 3, London Rifle Volunteers 2 and MWB turncocks 2.

Thirteen members of the brigade received injuries, from which 3 died: Firemen J. S. Green, C. A. Henley (both decorated posthumously) and A. H. Vidler, and 3 were invalided from the brigade. At the end of the First World War Chief Officer Sladen and his deputy S. G. Gamble retired, being replaced by A. R. Dyer and C. C. B. Morris respectively.

1987 TUBE DISASTER


King's Cross Fire - CLICK HERE

ISLINGTON - 1958



Photo: UK Fire Engines
Essex Road, Isington, Sept. 13, 1958

April 02, 2013

PADDINGTON - 1991

 
London Fire Brigade video

April 01, 2013

BRIXTON - 1981


Photo: Metropolitan Police

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."


Photo: Collection of Kevin McDermott, retired London firefighter


March 31, 2013

REBIRTH

 
 
 
 
Historic London fireboat the Massey Shaw was built in 1935 by J Samuel Whites of Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Designed to be able to go under all the bridges of the Thames and her tributaries at any state of the tide she was named after the first Superintendent of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Captain Eyre Massey Shaw.
 
After a five year restoration project, the Massey Shaw and Marine Vessels Preservation Society plan to undertake the longest solo journey of the vessels career as Massey leaves Gloucester Dock to navigate the south coast of the UK back to the River Thames.
 
The journey will be a unique and historic passage (over 550 miles!) for London's Fireboat and her new crew, both of whom will be more used to the relative comfort of calmer waters.
 
READ MORE at londonfireboat.com

March 05, 2013

'TAKE OVER NUMBER 4'

Photo: Londdon Fire Brigade

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.
 
"My favourite command on the escape was 'take over number 4' because it allowed me (number 1) to size up the pitch while number 4 steered the escape towards the window.
 
"My other favourite was the command 'launch', this was when the escape was put back on the motor and the crew had to launch it onto the gantry so that the head lock engaged.

"Number 4 then had to hang on the escape to test if it was secure.
 
"Sometimes it was. Sometimes it wasn’t, and number 4 would end up trying to stop ¾ of a ton from rolling down the road.

"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.

"Number 4 was a S**t position to ride!"

January 23, 2013

SKY FALLING



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

INCIDENT #5220131
0800
H22 LAMBETH
HELICOPTER CRASH
WANDSWORTH ROAD, SW 8


One Augusta 109 helicopter crashed into building and roadway following collision with tower crane on nearby construction site, helicopter 100% damaged by fire and crash, one office and commercial premises of two floors, 50 metres by 20 metres, 50% of face of building damaged by fire, second office building of two floors, 50 metres by 20 metres, damaged by debris from helicopter, 5 x motor cars, 2 x motorcycles, damaged by effects of fire and crash, 2 adults confirmed dead by HEMS doctor, 5 adults removed by LAS, suffering minor injuries, 4 further casualties treated on scene by LAS, 3 x jets, 2 x hosereel, 135 ladder, 9 metre ladder, aerial ladder platform, thermal image camera, all persons accounted for.
 
INCIDENT #6272131
0818
H22 LAMBETH
CRANE COLLAPSE
SAINT GEORGES WHARF DEVELOPMENT
NINE ELMS LANE, SW 8
 
One building under construction of 52 floors, 40 metres diameter, one helicopter in collision with tower crane attached to building, resulting in partial collapse of tower crane, assessment of crane carried out by on scene crane engineers, all crews withdrawn from hazard zone, approximately 600 construction workers self evacuated, approximately 40 residents evacuated by police to local refuge centre, one adult female suffering shock removed, incident now in hands of police and aviation accident investigation team.

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

HISTORIC CUTS!

UPDATED
Clekenwell Fire Station A-27
 
London Fire Brigade is considering the closure of the Clerkenwell station - the brigade's oldest - and 16 others historic firehouses to save money, the BBC reports.
 
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:
  • Acton
  • Belsize
  • Bow
  • Clapham
  • Clerkenwell
  • Downham
  • Islington
  • Kensington
  • Kingsland
  • Knightsbridge
  • New Cross
  • Peckham
  • Silvertown
  • Southwark
  • Westminster
  • Whitechapel
  • Woolwich
The argument for closing the stations seems to be that the "antiquated" structures are too costly to maintain.

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

From the Editor

The Fire Journal Group sponsors a fire buff club -- via Facebook -- to promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service worldwide.

facebook.com/firejournalgroup

October 08, 2012

60th ANNIVERSARY


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."