Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include Edward VII, who maintained a kit at a London fire station.

January 31, 2008


Modern fire dog

The first canine officially documented as a fire dog was ``Chance'' of the London Fire Engine Establishment in 1828.

In a letter to the The Fireman magazine published in the 1800s, an old London fireman recalled: ``Fire after fire he attended until he was well known in London as 'Chance, the watermen firemen's dog.' Chance remained a faithful friend of the firemen for many years. He ultimately went nearly blind; even then he used to follow the engine,'' according to the book The Firefighters Best Friend.

While Chance wasn't a dalmation - his breed was never determined - ``he was known for following the crew to every fire and rescuing several people,'' the book said. ``He rotated throughout the firehouses in London, spending a few days at each house. As a result, every firefighter in London knew him.''

What's more, firemen took a collection to buy a brass dog collar with the inscription: ``Stop me not, but onward let me jog, for I am Chance, the London Firemen's dog.''

When he passed away, London newspapers published obituaries, and ``one paper reported that while on his deathbed, Chance tried unsuccessfully to rise up and follow the men one last time as they rushed to a fire,'' the book said.

After his passing ``his favorite house at the Central Station of the London Fire Brigade paid a taxidermist to stuff him and place him in a glass case,'' the book said. ``After the taxidermist completed his work, he decided to instead sell the famous dog to a showman on the other side of town, who let visitors glimpse the dog for a penny. The showman unknowingly allowed a fireman in for a viewing. Several hours later, the entire squad returned to retrieve their dog.''

The firemen mounted the case in the fire station, and placed a memorial plaque nearby that read: ``Chance, well known as the firemen's dog. Died October 10, 1835. This is humbly inscribed by the Committee of London Fire Establishment and their obedient servants.''


Photo: Wimbledon Fire Station

Fire gutted the Woolworths store on Wimbledon's Broadway in 1981 - claiming the life of a member of the London Fire Brigade.

According to the Wimbledon Fire Station web site, Firefighter Tony Marshall died in the line of duty on April 30, 1981.

Sadly, less than a month later on May 24, 1981, Firefighter Barry Trussell was killed at a fire at St George's Hospital on Blackshaw Road, according to the web site.

January 28, 2008


From Times Online, Feb. 15, 2007:

``Cyril Demarne was a sub officer in the West Ham Fire Brigade instructing the Auxiliary Fire Service when war was declared. On the the first day of the London Blitz, September 7, 1940, he recalled a `lovely sunny day. There were about 300 German aircraft. Some flew along the waterfront from North Woolwich to the tidal basin and bombed the big factories. [They] had thousands of people in them and there were horrendous casualties.'

``Three miles of the waterfront became a continuous blaze, and Demarne ordered 500 pumps to the scene. The commander thought this exaggerated and sent someone down to see. The man reported back that 1,000 engines were needed. ''

DeMarne survived the war and died Jan. 28, 2007. He was 101.

January 17, 2008


Photos: BBC and Press Association

British Airways Flight 38 from Beijing crash-landed short of a runway at London’s Heathrow Airport on Jan. 17, 2008. The airline said 136 passengers and 16 crew escaped on emergency slides. There were more than a dozen minor injuries. Airport firefighters applied blankets of foam to the wreckage to prevent leaking jet fuel from erupting in flame.
1 Boeing 777 crash landed adjacent to runway. 136 passengers and 16 crew safely evacuated via escape chute. 11 casualties suffering minor injuries removed by L.A.S. 30-35 persons being assessed in triage at survivors reception centre. Foam blanket laid by Airport Fire Service and LFB. 1 Hose Laying Lorry, 3 Bulk Foam Units, 3 Airport Fire Service Foam Tenders,6 Foam Branches, 3500 litres of LFB foam used.
INC. 9164081
TOC 12:43:43
58.Q/98 G56 TQ 07468 74189
G561 @ G56 AS PA, 135, RTA, WMR, RT
G392 @ G39 AS PA, RTA
G401 @ G40 AS PA, 135, RTA, WMR
G382 @ G38 AS PA
G381 @ G38 AS PA
H431 @ H43 AS PA
G242 X RT @ G24 AS USRS
SR15 @ A34 AS USR
G306 @ A40 AS USRC, HRTA
H276 @ H27 AS USRC
E216 @ E21 AS USRC
H429 X RT @ H42 AS HLR
G104 X PAG @ G38 AS GM
G40 X PAG @ G56 AS SM
G23 X PAG @ G23 AS SM
G24 X PAG @ G24 AS HZ
E79 X PAG @ H39 AS UA
H42 X PAG @ H42 AS PR

January 14, 2008


Photos: BBC
On Nov. 12, 2007, 85 firefighters battled a blaze in an abandoned warehouse on on Waterden Road in East London. At the height of the fire, the warehouse was completely alight. Dave Brown, the fire brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Service Delivery, said: ``We had 150 calls into the brigade’s control room about this incident, with a large plume of smoke seen over the capital.''

January 10, 2008


"You belong to a force which has a long and honourable tradition of gallantry and devotion to duty ... your duties remain arduous and difficult and call for a high standard of physical fitness ... I am confident that the London Fire Brigade will maintain these qualities to the highest degree"

 - HRH Edward, Prince of Wales
Speaking at review of London Fire Brigade at Victoria Park in August 1929

The London Fire Brigade provides ``fire cover'' according to a system of risk categories traditionally used across the United Kingdom. The risk category determines the minimum number of appliances dispatched to an incident.
  • "A" risk - Areas with high density of large buildings and/or population, for example office blocks or factories. Three fire engines to be sent within eight minutes, the first two to arrive within five minutes.
  • "B" risk - Areas with medium density of large buildings and/or population, for example multi-storey residential blocks. Two engines deployed, one within five minutes, the second within eight minutes.
  • "C" risk - Low density suburban areas and detached properties. One fire engine to be sent within ten minutes.
  • "D" risk - Rural areas. One fire engine to be sent within twenty minutes.

The Dual Purpose Ladder - DPL - is the standard type of firefighting, with about 170 in operation across London. The brigade took delivery of a fleet of 216 Mercedes-Benz Atego pumps with new Plastisol bodywork between 2002 and 2007. According to Wikipedia, the standard engine has 13½m and/or 9m ladder extensions, eight 18m lengths of hose, four 25m lengths of thinner hose, cutting equipment, a portable generator, a lightweight portable pump, water-packs, inflatable air bags, road signs, floodlights, a medical kit, hose ramps, general tools, chemical suits and breathing apparatus. DPLs weigh in at around 11.2 tonnes, and are approximately 7.7m long, 2.3m wide and 3.2m high, carry 1,365 litres of water, and have a pumping capacity of 3,910 litres per minute.

Code1 - Small structure fire
Code 2 - Small rubbish/outdoor fire
Code 3 - Chimney fire
Code 4 - False alarm due to AFA
Code 5 - False alarm, good intent call
Code 6 - False alarm malicious
Code 7 - Special service

Status 1 - At station
Status 2 - Enroute
Status 3 - Arrived
Status 5 - Mobile to cover another station
Status 6 - Mobile and available for a call
Tactical Mode OSCAR - Offensive (interior attack)
Tactical Mode DELTA - Defensive (exterior attack)
Tactical Mode TANGO - Transitional

Pumps 1 ... Crew Manager
Pumps 2-4 ... Watch Manager
Pumps 5-6 ... Station Manager
Pumps 7-8 ... Group Manager
Pumps 9-12 ... Deputy Assistant Commissioner (formerly known as Area Manager)
Pumps 13+ ... Brigade Manager (Senior officers)


In November 2007, Camden firefighters became the first in London to carry improved first aid equipment - including defibrillators, suction devices to maintain open airways, cervical spinal collars and improved wound dressings. Primary responsibility for emergency medical care remains with the London Ambulance Service.

'SHOUTS' - 2008



Photo: Sky News

On March 7, 2008, fire broke out at the Custom House Hotel on Victoria Dock Road in the Dockland.

The 10-pump fire damaged around half of the hotel's top floor and forced the evacuation of 100 people to a nearby school, according to the fire brigade.



Photos: News Shopper and Kent Online

``Ten fire engines and around 50 firefighters are attending a blaze at a timber yard on Maple Road in Penge. A timber yard and shed, 30 metres by 50 metres is completely alight. There is heavy smoke which is spreading to adjacent shops and homes.''

- London Fire Brigade press release, Feb. 14, 2008



Photo: Daily Mail

On Jan. 26, 2008, London firefighters helped prevent the sinking of a pleasure cruiser on the River Thames - an incident that recalled the loss of Marchioness party boat two decades earlier.

According to Press Association, the 288-ton Millennium City ``got into difficulties after holing its bow.'' Firefighters pumped and sealed the vessel's engine room. The 35 passengers were evacuated at Westminster pier. There were no injuries.

Passenger Ajay Jaswal said : "We were all dancing to the YMCA when the boat just lurched to one side. People just fell to the floor, then glasses smashed around us and the lights went out. It was really quite frightening. They told us all to come to the front of the boat as the back end was sinking but we all managed to get off safely in the end."

Just the same, The Daily Mail said the accident rekindled memories of the Aug. 20, 1989 sinking of the pleasure cruiser Marchioness that killed 51 people.

The Marchioness, which was packed with young party-goers, collided with the 260-foot gravel dredger Bowbelle. That ``disco boat'' left Charing Cross pier at 1:25 a.m. for a birthday party for banker Antonio de Vasconcellos, 26.

It passed its sister ship, Hurlingham, as the vessels approached Southwark Bridge, according to The Independent newspaper.

1989 Sinking

At 1:46 a.m., the passengers and crew aboard the Hurlingham witnessed the collision with the dredger and issued a distress call: ``Wapping Police, Wapping Police, emergency. Pleasure boat is sunk, Cannon Street Railway Bridge, all emergency aid please."

However, the Woolwich marine radio station, which received the distress call, misheard the location as Battersea Bridge -- in the opposite direction -- and the police, in turn, sent fire brigade boats, as well as land vehicles, the wrong way. It wasn't until 20 minutes after the collision that the fire brigade received the correct location.

At 2:16 a.m., Station Officer Gleeson of the Southwark fire station radioed the following situation report to the control room, according to the Fire Brigade's chronology: ``Machioness sunk, believed downstream of Blackfrairs Bridge with unknown number of people in river and Met Police searching river between Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges.''

The Independent said: ``No one was found alive after the first 30 minutes. Only one body was recovered that night by the fire brigade. No others were found until the following day when the wreck was raised east of Southwark Bridge: there were 24 bodies found in different sections of the boat. Over the next few days the remaining 26 bodies were gradually recovered along the river, the last being Mr de Vasconcellos himself.''

In August 1991, a report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said ``the failure of lookouts on both ships was the immediate cause of the tragedy,'' the BBC said. In 1995, an inquest jury returned a verdict of "unlawful killing" but the Crown Prosecution Service concluded there was insufficient evidence.



Photo: Sun

On Jan. 10, 2008, flames ripped through a training tower at the former Barbican fire station and winds blew embers towards other buildings, the Islington Gazette reported. Six engines and 30 firefighters attended the incident.

Clerkenwell fire station watch manager Peter Newton said: "There is scaffolding erected around the old drill tower which is about four to five storeys high. The fire started at the top. There are timber boards on each level and sheets on the outside of it so it was going quite well and the strong wind was spreading it. A lot of burning embers were flying off so we put jets on the surrounding buildings to protect them."



On Jan. 8, 2008, the London Fire Brigade’s Urban Search and Rescue teams freed a builder from a house that had partially collapsed in Purley, South London. The roof and the upper floor caved in, trapping the builder under a steel beam.

Borough Commander Dave Whiting said: “This was a difficult, hazardous, but ultimately highly successful rescue, which took several hours and demonstrated what a valuable addition the USAR teams have proven to be. Throughout, our urban search and rescue teams worked closely with the London Ambulance Service, the Helicopter Emergency Response Service and the Metropolitan Police. The co-ordinated response was a testament to the close working relationship of all the emergency services.”

Since being formed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the USAR teams – which specialise in the location and rescue of casualties trapped in confined spaces - have been deployed to a number of incidents, including a crane collapse in Battersea and Croydon, a building collapse in Commercial Road, Whitechapel, a tornado in Kensal Green and a trapped construction worker in Westminster.



On Feb. 27, 2008, the London Fire Brigade received just a handful of telephone calls when an earthquake rocked eastern England though a tremor was felt in the brigade's control room in Greenwich, southeast London, the BBC reported.

None of the calls to the brigade required the attendance of London's firefighters as ``the epicentre of the 5.2 magnitude quake was near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire'' - 125 miles north of London, according to the BBC. Nearer communities, however, reported damage - including toppled chimneys.

January 03, 2008




``More than 150 firefighters battled through the night as a huge blaze engulfed one of Oxford Street's busiest stores. Hundreds of shoppers had to be evacuated and traffic was brought to a standstill for several hours as New Look's London flagship shop went up in flames.''

-The Evening Standard, April 24, 2007


WEST END - 2002

Photo: BBC

On Sept. 26, 2002, firefighters extinguished a fire that engulfed two buildings in London's West End - and threatened to spread to the 200-year-old Theatre Royal.

``More than 50 firefighters managed to control the fire which burned for over four hours, closing roads and filling the West End with smoke,'' the BBC said.


Photo: BBC

On Dec. 12, 1997, a fire at a passenger terminal disrupted flights at Heathrow Airport - one of the busiest in the world. Sixty firefighters and 15 engines battled the blaze for five hours at Terminal One. The flames spread from a Burger King restaurant through the building's air ducts.

According to the BBC: ``Although 180,000 people pass through the terminal each day, there were only a hundred people - mostly overnight staff - in the terminal at the time. One expert said that if the ferocious but confined blaze had occurred at peak time, the results could have been `quite catastrophic.' ... An estimated 45,000 passengers had their journeys disrupted or cancelled.''


On Nov. 19, 1897, fire damaged 100 buildings in Cripplegate, primarily warehousing - and put thousands of people out of work. Damage was estimated at 1 million pounds.

``The Great Cripplegate fire of 1897 began in an ostrich feather warehouse and cleared much of what remained of the old area,'' according to the web site of Gold Lane estate.

This ``warren of slums and ‘red light’ areas'' was transformed by the industrial revolution into a district of warehouses and train yards - and laid waste by flames, the web site said. The Lord Mayor of London's launched a relief, according to the web site of the British Library of Political and Economic Science.

The fire brigade was criticized by the public for its response to the blaze, but the chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee defended the efforts of the firemen at a meeting of the London County Council, according to newspaper accounts.

The conflagration also damaged St. Giles Church, which was built in the 1500s and survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. St. Giles was damaged again when fire and destruction visited Cripplegate during the German raids of World War II.



Romilly (National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London)

During the Victorian era, social class was a national obsession. Industrialists in the House of Commons vied with landowners in the House of Lords, while the middle class sought to distance itself from the working class. Sometimes, though, class simply didn't matter. Everyone was equal.

On May 24, 1891, London fireman George Byne was seriously injured in a rescue attempt at the home of a nobleman - Lord William Romilly, 2nd Baron Romilly. Romilly died as did his maid and cook. The butler and another servant escaped the flames. Several engines answered the alarm.

According to a dispatch in The New York Times, Romilly ``upset a paraffine lamp in the drawing room in his London residence. He was alone at the time and vainly attempted to extinguish the fire unassisted. Soon after, the butler smelled smoke, and on making a hurried investigation found Lord Romily lying senseless.''

Upon entering the home, the fire brigade found maid Blance Griffin and cook Emma Lovell ''in the same state of insensibility in which their employer was discovered,'' the newspaper said, while ``George Byne, a fireman, received serious injuries while engaged in rescuing the unconscious inmates of the house.''

The victims were taken to St. George's Hospital.


Photo: BBC

On Dec. 15, 2003, a 12-pump fire ripped through the Tiffin Girls School in Kingston, south-west London. There were no injuries.

According to the BBC, the fire - which took five hours to control - damaged 15 classrooms, the roof, and the power and heating systems.


IRA BOMBS 1969 - 1997

Photos: BBC

Firemen at 1974 bombings of Parliment and Tower of London

Over a period of three decades, from 1969 to 1997, the Provisional IRA carried out a wave of deadly attacks across the U.K. aimed at ending British rule in Northern Island. The attacks included the bombing of a number of London landmarks.

On June 17, 1974, a bomb has exploded at the Houses of Parliament, fracturing a gas main. ``A fierce fire spread quickly through the centuries-old hall in one of Britain's most closely-guarded buildings,'' the BBC said. About a dozen people were injured.

A month later -- July 17, 1974 -- a blast at the Tower of London killed one person and injured about 40 others. The bomb detonated in the Mortar Room in the White Tower, a small basement exhibition room packed with tourists ``who took the force of the blast,'' the BBC said. ``Many people suffered badly damaged and lost limbs and severe facial injuries.''

One of the deadliest bombings occurred Dec. 17, 1983 at Harrods Department Store during the Christmas shopping season. The explosion killed six people -- including three police officers -- and wounded scores more. ``Harrods re-opened three days later despite the damage,'' the BBC said.

On April 24, 1993, a truck bomb at Bishopsgate in the City of London caused £1 billion in property loss, including the destruction of St Ethelburga's church and serious damage to Liverpool Street Underground. There were a number of casualties.


Fire swept the London waterfront at the start of the 20th century.

According to a July 12, 1901 dispatch appearing in the The New York Times the next day: ``A fire at the West India Docks today destroyed a number of huge sheds and their contents. The amount of damage is estimated at from L100,000 to L250,000. Sugar and timber warehouses were involved in the conflagration. The Custom House was damaged, but the vessels in the docks were removed safely.''



On April 21, 1902, fire erupted at MacQueen's hat factory in the Barbican and the wind-whipped flames gutted adjacent warehouses as well as assorted businesses and shops. Two firemen sustained injuries Chief Fire Officer Wells directed the firefighting.

``Three hundred firemen and 40 fire engines were engaged,'' according to The New York Times. ``Owing to the danger that Aldergate Street Station might catch fire, traffic on the Metropolitan Railway was temporarily suspended. The guests of the Manchester Hotel, adjacent to the Aldergate Street station, hurriedly left.''



On Sept. 2, 2002, London firefighters rescued seven people from a fire at a four-story hostel on Montagu Place, Marylebone. Eight engines and two turntable ladders attended the fire, with crews using six jets and two ladder monitors to extinguish the flames.

At 7:19 p.m., the fire brigade's control room at Lambeth received the first of 23 telephone calls about the fire, and ``a few minutes later firefighters from Manchester Square and Paddington fire stations arrived at the scene to find people calling for help from a number of the upper floor windows and the roof,'' according to a fire brigade press release.

``They quickly raised their ladders and rescued one man, two women and a child, all suffering from smoke inhalation from a second floor window and one man from the roof who was uninjured,'' the press release said. ``Two other men escaped from the premises before the brigade arrived, one from the basement and another who jumped from a first floor window. Two other people were assisted from the building by breathing apparatus crews.''

Divisional Officer Lee Phillpotts, incident commander, said: ``All the firefighters who attended this incident worked very hard to fight what was a very severe fire. The first crews to arrive in particular did an excellent job as they were confronted by a number of people in great distress at windows and the roof of the building, and an already well developed fire below them.''



Did Mrs. O Leary's cow do more damage in Chicago?

``1966 marks the tercentenary of the Great Fire of London. In reading descriptions of this fire, I was impressed by the facts that only four people died directly as a result of the fire and that only 436 acres were burnt in 87 h. The London fire is dwarfed when compared, for example, with the Chicago 'Mrs. O'Leary's Cow' fire of 1871 when 2,124 acres and 17,450 buildings were burnt between October 8 and 10, 250 people were killed and about 100,000 left homeless. Although fire-fighting techniques had become more advanced and buildings more widely separated than they were in the London of 1666, the Chicago fire was a much faster spreading and more destructive fire.''

- from S. Atallah, Fire Research Station, Boreham Wood, Hertfordshire, and Department of Chemical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, writing in the journal Nature on July 2, 1966.



On Oct. 5, 1954, fire swept the top floor of the Royal Mail Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, forcing the evacuation of thousands of workers and a quantity of mail from one of the largest postal facilities in London.

``The call went out to Clerkenwell fire station, conveniently situated immediately opposite the buildings, and firemen were on the scene within two minutes.'' It later ``emerged that over twenty minutes had elapsed between the discovery of the fire and making the emergency call,'' according to the web site of the British Postal Museum & Archive. The Postmaster General was questioned about the incident in Parliament. It was determined the post office firefighting squad attempted to extinguish the blaze before calling for outside assistance.



On May 24, 2004, a fire at a warehouse in east London ``destroyed millions of dollars worth of work by leading contemporary British artists, dozens of them from the vast collection of Charles Saatchi, the warehouse's owner,'' The New York Times reported.

The newspaper said: ``Among the works that have been lost are pieces by Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread and Jake and Dinos Chapman, all part of the influential and showy Young British Artist movement championed and sustained by Mr. Saatchi for the last 15 or so years.

``Well-known works destroyed in the fire, which raged for two days and leveled the warehouse, included Ms. Emin's 'Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995,' a tent on which she had stitched the names of dozens of past lovers; and the Chapman brothers' 'Hell,' a series of nine miniature landscapes depicting the horrors of war that took them two years to make and that, according to some reports, cost Mr. Saatchi £500,000, or about $905,000.''



On Aug. 14, 1883, fire destroyed a "lunatic asylum'' at Southall Park, killing six people, according to Haydn's Dictionary of Dates and Universal Information.

Among the dead was Dr. Robert Boyd, a physician and proprieter of the private institution, according to the 1886 Dictionary of National Biography, compiled by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee.

Boyd was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, as well as a ``writer on diseases of the insane'' whose work was published in The Lancet and other journals, according to Stephen and Sidney.

Volume No. 4 of the text ``A History of the County of Middlesex,'' reprinted by the web site British History Online, said: ``By 1855 Southall Park had become a private lunatic asylum, which between 1861 and 1881 had an average of 18 patients. The house, a 'fine specimen of Queen Anne architecture', was destroyed by fire in 1883 killing Dr. Boyd, the superintendent, his son William, and 4 patients.''



On Oct. 1, 1869, an explosion killed seven people in a house in Bayswater. The owner of the house, at 69, Moscow Road - a Mr. Titheradge - was a confectioner who also sold fireworks, according to the 1870 edition of the Annual Register, published by Longmans.

The book said:

``At five minutes to three o'clock in the morning the constable who took this road as part of a very long beat happened to be passing near the house, when he heard a noise resembling fireworks, and was startled immediately afterwards by an explosion which blew the front of the shop out, shutters and all. He at once sprang his rattle, and used his best exertions to rouse the people in the place.

``But egress by the front was impossible almost immediately, as the house must have been in flames instantaneously in the front, and the explosion, to all appearances, went through the two windows over the shop. Of course all who slept in that apartment must have been killed at once. A second policeman came at the alarm of the rattle, and he ran for the engine, which came in fifteen minutes after the alarm.''


STOP MESSAGE: Hospital of 5 floors 100 metres x 50 metres, 50% of roof containing plant equipment and research labs damaged by fire. 79 patients and approximately 200 staff evacuated from building. 5 jets, 2 hosereels, 2 turntable ladders ,2 aerial ladder platforms, dry riser, extended duration breathing apparatus, turntable ladder monitor, thermal image camera, all persons accounted for, same as all calls.

By Vinny Del Giudice

On Jan. 2, 2008, a spectacular fire swept the roof and upper floors of one of the world's leading cancer hospitals - the Royal Marsden Hospital in central London. Twenty-five fire engines along with special units attended the blaze.

Founded in 1851 by Dr. William Marsden, the hospital treats 40,000 patients annually. In the 1920s, the Royal Marsden and the Institute of Cancer Research discovered that cigarette smoke was carcinogenic. In the 1950s, the hospital developed the first forms of chemotherapy.

Watch Manager Kevin Walpole, of the Chelsea fire station’s Red Watch, said: "There was fire in the left section of the roof and it was spreading rapidly because of the wind. One of our crews helped with the evacuation of the fifth floor while the other crew started tackling the fire and we quickly increased attendance to eight fire engines and other specialist equipment.”

Kensington Station Manager Martin Freeman reported: “The fire had spread into the roof space and was severe. Crews were working in arduous conditions and worked extremely hard. We do train for incidents like this and prepare evacuation strategies so we had a clear idea how to tackle this incident.”

Seniors fire officers worked with London water board ``turnkeys'' to ensure an adequate supply of water. The turnkeys respond to fires requiring six pumps or more.

In nearby Dovehouse Street, nurses attended to several patients on mattresses while others were led to safety wrapped in blankets and pushed in wheelchairs, according to a dispatch in The Scotsman newspaper.

Martin Gore, the hospital's medical director, said: "There were two patients having surgery at the time. They have been safely taken off their anaesthetic and ventilators. They were taken to recovery and are now in a neighbouring hospital. Some of the operations were partly interrupted and there may need to be some further surgery but the patients are safe."

Most everyone remained calm, evacuees said.

According to The Scotman newspaper, chemotherapy patient Paul O'Byrne, 50, reported: "We could see the smoke going past the window – it was really billowing past." Carole Williams, 55, standing in the street in a dressing gown, said: "There was no panic whatsoever."

Still, in an interview with BBC Radio 4, Valerie Shawcross, chair of London's fire and emergency planning authority, which oversee the fire brigade, was critical of the National Health Service. Enforcement notices have been served to almost two dozen NHS trusts since firefighters were given responsibility for hospital fire inspections across the U.K., Radio 4 said.

``I think it's very important that the rest of the health service looks at what's happened with the Royal Marsden,'' Shawcross said.``I think Fire Brigades up and down the country feel that they have been grappling to get the attention of the health service to improve their fire safety records and this really is the last chance warning to get on with it.''

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, his wife Sarah and Health Secretary Alan Johnson visited the Chelsea fire station the next day, and the prime minister told firefighters: “I was just at the Royal Brompton and all the patients thank you for your efforts.” Earlier, Brown said he had “nothing but the fullest of praise” for hospital staff and the emergency services.

The Salvation Army said its canteen was sent to the hospital as ``part of the official incident response'' and situated within the police cordon on Sydney Street, where it remained through the night. The canteen provides crews with refreshments and ``a listening ear.'' Said one patron: ``The little red van is like an oasis.''

The hospital reopened to outpatients on Jan. 7.



The Fire Bridages Union released an independent report entitled ``Easy Targets'' that said there are at least 40 gang attacks on fire crews every week in the UK - and that under-reporting could mean the figure is much higher.

Firefighters are ``being pelted with bricks, bottles, and stones as they fight fires,'' the union said in a press release. ``Other incidents include ambushes, booby traps and being attacked with lumps of wood, knives and a petrol bomb.''

What's more, in some communities, ``abuse, threats and attacks are so frequent they are no longer reported,'' the union said. The Tyne and Wear fire authority, for example, issued ``spit kits'' to fire crews to collect DNA from gang members.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the union, said: “Frustration, boredom, alcohol and drug use can all fuel the problems of youngsters living in communities and on estates they feel are on the margins of society. The outcome can be recreational violence.''


Evening News of Edinburgh - Feb. 29, 2008

``FIRE chiefs today hit out at 'mindless and idiotic' yobs who have hurled burning missiles, glass and bricks at crews in four separate attacks this month.

``In one attack, a firefighter was so badly injured by a brick he had to be stood down for the night, forcing the entire crew off duty due to safety regulations.

``On another call out, the firefighters were chased from one retreat position to the next.''



On May 27, 2007, flames damaged the 19th Century ship Cutty Sark - the historic tea clipper at its dry ock in William Walk, Greenwich. Forty firefighters, eight pumps and an aerial ladder battled the blaze. Built in 1869, Cutty Sark was the last clipper constructed as a merchant vessel. She went on public display in 1954. Investigators determined the fire was caused by an electrical fault in a vacuum cleaner.