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.

"THE RESCUE" - 1855

"THE RESCUE" - 1855

December 17, 2009

December 16, 2009


Photo: Wikipedia

From Newham Recorder - Dec. 9, 2009

REVAMPING East Ham Fire station into one of four rescue super centres is revealed.

The London Fire Brigade has launched consultation on its draft Safety Plan to modernise and improve the service. The proposal is to establish the highly-equipped centres at the High Street South station as well as Edmonton, Heston and Croydon.

Each would have on base a range of rescue equipment including pump ladders, pumps, fire rescue units and urban search and rescue appliances.

These specialist vehicles - five models are available - can carry vast range of equipment from drills ands concrete breakers and its own generator and lights to heavy hydraulic equipment for lifting trains. There is even a flat-bed unit to carry timber and equipment. These centres would allow much better management and maintenance of the highly specialised skills required, says the draft plan.

December 15, 2009


More than 300 firefighters were killed in the line of duty protecting the London region during World War Two.


Photo: Private collection
New Malden fire station in 1920s or 1930s. Traditional metal helmets were replaced by compressed cork helmets in the 1930s to guard against electrocution.

PECKHAM - 2009

Photo: Sky News

On Nov. 26, 2009, flames swept a construction site, jumped a street and ignited an apartment block and a pub at Caribrooke Gardens, Peckham.

"At the height of the blaze there were 30 fire engines and over 150 firefighters tackling the fire," according to a London Fire Brigade press release. "Around 310 people were evacuated from their homes and moved to emergency accommodation."

No serious injuries were reported at the fire at Sumner Road and Rosemary Road.

"The ferocity of the fire was a challenge when we first arrived," said Steve Turek, assistant fire commissioner, quoted by the Associated Press. "All the buildings were simultaneously burning."

Paul McKenzie, owner of the gutted Golden Lion pub, told the BBC: "I opened the fire door into the club room and it was just hot. The glass in the windows were cracked and I thought, 'You know what, this not somewhere you want to be.'"


December 08, 2009


Classic postcard portraying new addition to fleet.

DOCKS - 1864

Image: Illustrated London News
"In December 1864, a fire destroyed several buildings in the St Saviour's Dock at Dockhead, Bermondsey. The engraving is notable for its depiction of the London Fire Engine Establishment's floating fire engine in action," according to Port Cities London web site.


During World War II, Auxiliary Fireman Walter Crabb (2nd row from top, 2nd from left) attended recruit school at No. 2 Training Centre 'C', Northwold Road, and upon graduation was assigned to No. 28, Whitechapel, London, on Sept. 30, 1940, according to a Crabb family genealogy web site.

November 06, 2009


On Oct. 31, the London Fire Brigade searched a British Airways jetliner at Heathrow airport after six passengers became sick on a trans-Atlantic flight.

Firefighters in chemical suits ran tests inside the cabin of the Boeing 777 - BA Flight 184 from Newark, New Jersey - and the results were negative. The London Ambulance Service examined the passengers and none were found to be seriously ill.

A 777 aircraft at stand 582 landed at 07:05 hrs with 216 passengers and 14 crew on board, 6 passengers overcome in flight, cabin area and flight deck declared safe using DIM equipment by RRT crews in gas tight suits, 5 passengers treated by LAS, all remaining passengers disembarked from aircraft.

October 30, 2009


Night raid - 1941

October 28, 2009


Photo: Imperial War College
World War II recruitment poster

From Daily Telegraph:

"When war was declared there were over 1,400 regular local fire brigades in the United Kingdom. To them were attached volunteers of the Auxiliary Fire Service which had been established in July 1938. The AFS was mobilised on 31st August 1939 and in the London region there were 32,000 AFS firemen and firewomen compared to 3,000 men of the regular brigades. The AFS had its baptism of fire during the 1940-1941 Blitz in which many important lessons were learnt. On 18th August 1941, local brigades and the AFS were combined into the National Fire Service under Home Secretary Herbert Morrison."


Fire in abandoned warehouse, November 2007


Photo: The Matchbox Club
Model of London Fire Brigade horse drawn engine


Photo: London Cycling Campaign
Classic image of Euston Fire Station

October 22, 2009

DUNKIRK - 1940

Fireboat Massey Shaw at sea

At the start of World War II, the London fireboat Massey Shaw performed heroically as a member of the fleet of "Little Ships" that evacuated British soliders from Dunkirk in France.

Navy sailors and London firemen worked side by side to rescue members of the British Expeditionary Force defeated by the German Army.

According to the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships:

"The fires of Dunkirk gave them enough light to work by and the thick blanket of smoke provided some cover from air attack. But the shelling from German guns was relentless. The two Naval officers set a splendid example of calm and the beach party rowed ashore, fixing a line to maintain contact with the fire-float. After four or five journeys, the Massey Shaw was full once more with troops pressed together in the cabin and standing shoulder-to-shoulder on deck. Her load of nearly l00 men was transferred to a troopship at anchor in the channel and she returned to be re-loaded.

"After some engine trouble that the naval stokers who were unused to the Massey Shaw's machinery, eventually managed to overcome, stretcher cases began to arrive and these were hard to handle and transfer to the troopship. They made about five journeys from the beach to a paddle steamer and it was estimated that they embarked 500 men in this way. As dawn broke, the troopship was full and left for England. Massey Shaw returned to the beach and started loading again. At this point, on a falling tide, they began to bump on the sands and were in danger of damaging their propellers but, with their engines throbbing at full power, they just managed to get back into deep water. At 0330 they were the last boat to leave that part of the beach. Halfway across the channel, the Naval skipper began to have doubts about the compass, but then, to his relief, came across a drifter towing two small boats packed with troops. They followed them into Ramsgate where they arrived at 0800 on Sunday 2nd June, landing 30 or 40 more soldiers.

"The Massey Shaw returned to Dunkirk again the next evening with a Fire Service crew. This time they went to the jetty of Dunkirk harbour. It was difficult for soldiers to board her from the towering jetty and she came away empty. After returning to Ramsgate, she was ordered back to London. Off Margate, the Emile Deschamps, a French ship which had sailed to England from Dunkirk laden with troops the previous night, was passing her at a distance of 200 yards when it struck a mine and sank almost immediately. The Massey Shaw picked up 40 men, all severely injured and took them back to Ramsgate. Early on Wednesday 5th, she finally returned to London and as she came up the river she was cheered as she passed each fire station."

CCTV 7/7

CCTV image of emergency response to July 7, 2005, terrorist attack at London Underground station at King's Cross.

TUBE FIRES - 1958 & 1960

From the BBC:

"On 28 July, 1958, a fire started in the electrical wiring of a Central line train between Shepherd's Bush and Holland Park station in west London, with most of the passengers suffering from smoke inhalation and one person later dying from breathing the fumes. Electrical arcing in power cables at the rear of the first carriage had produced an electrical arc which produced a torch-like flame, which blistered and melted the paint and other materials to produce acrid fumes. The current to the tracks was soon removed, and passengers had to be detrained towards both Shepherd's Bush and Holland Park.

"A similar incident occurred two years later on 12 August, 1960 when a fire started in the front carriage of a train between Redbridge and Gants Hill for the same reason. Fortunately no one was killed as the train was only partially full, though a few dozen people were taken to hospital. Precautions recommended after the Holland Park fire meant that the driver's cab had been insulated from the point where the arcing occurred, probably saving the driver's life. Meanwhile, this second accident led to further attempts to improve safety, with most of the 1938 tube stock which had the same type of wiring being altered or decommissioned soon afterwards."


Photos: BBC, Daily Mail and Wikipedia
On March 8, 1973, the Irish Republican Army bombed the Old Bailey, the central criminal court. Twin car bombs claimed one life. Another 100 people were injured. The blasts also damaged government agricultural offices.

October 21, 2009


Photo: Historical Footsteps Tours of London

Script of BBC Broadcast from Sept. 7, 1940

The German air force has unleashed a wave of heavy bombing raids on London, killing hundreds of civilians and injuring many more.

The Ministry of Home Security said the scale of the attacks was the largest the Germans had yet attempted.

"Our defences have actively engaged the enemy at all points," said a communiqué issued this evening.

"The civil defence services are responding admirably to all calls that are being made upon them."

The first raids came towards the end of the afternoon, and were concentrated on the densely populated East End, along the river by London's docks.

About 300 bombers attacked the city for over an hour and a half. The entire docklands area seemed to be ablaze as hundreds of fires lit up the sky.

Once darkness fell, the fires could be seen more than 10 miles away, and it is believed that the light guided a second wave of German bombers which began coming over at about 2030 BST (1930 GMT).

The night bombing lasted over eight hours, shaking the city with the deafening noise of hundreds of bombs falling so close together there was hardly a pause between them.

One bomb exploded on a crowded air raid shelter in an East London district.

In what was described as "a million to one chance", the bomb fell directly on the 3ft (90cm) by 1ft (30cm) ventilation shaft - the only vulnerable place in a strongly-protected underground shelter which could accommodate over 1,000 people.

About 14 people are believed to have been killed and 40 injured, including children.

Civil defence workers worked through the night, often in the face of heavy bombing, to take people out of the range of fire and find them temporary shelter and food.

An official paid tribute to staff at one London hospital which was hit, saying, "They showed marvellous bravery, keeping on until bomb detonations and gunfire made it absolutely impossible."

In the air, a series of ferocious dogfights developed as the German aircraft flew up the Thames Estuary.

The Air Ministry says at least 15 enemy aircraft crashed into the estuary, and in all, the Ministry said, 88 German aircraft were shot down, against 22 RAF planes lost.


Photo: Soho Fire Station web site


Photos: delta23lfb via Flickr
Images of a London fire station teleprinter and a message calling additional fire crews - with "BA" or breathing appartus - to a major incident at King George V Dock in East London on Dec. 29, 1974. The "royal dock" was built in 1912 and closed in the 1980s. Today, it's part of "The Docklands."

October 02, 2009


Photo: Soho Fire Station web site
Oxford Street, 10 pumps


Exhausted members of Auxiliary Fire Service catch a nap on rear of "heavy" pump during the Blitz.


Firemen Remembered is a charity dedicated honoring the firemen and firewomen who served in the London Region during World War II

October 01, 2009


Photo: Classic Fire Engines
Classic emergency tender assigned to Clerkenwell Fire Station from Classic Fire Engines [Classic Fire Engines leases vehicles for movies, television, weddings, funerals and other events]

September 30, 2009


Sculpture at old London Fire Brigade Headquarters at Albert Embankment, circa 1937

July 22, 2009


Catching a wink as flames rage above. Londoners take shelter in the Elephant and Castle district's tube station during a German air raid in 1940.


Photo: Museum of London
One of the fire brigade's greatest accomplishments during World War Two was saving St. Paul's Catherdral from the German air raids.


Photo: Illustrated London News
Early breathing apparatus, 19th Century

July 17, 2009


"Mind you, it's not really much of a blaze, but I thought perhaps it might be a nice little bit of practice for your Auxiliaries."
London Evening News - May 29, 1939
British Cartoon Archive
"Hi, mister. Lend me your escape."
London Evening News - Feb. 7, 1935
British Cartoon Archive

"He goes up there to water his garden down in Mitcham."
London Evening News - June 17, 1939
British Cartoon Archive


Photos: Hospital web site (top); Museum of London (bottom)
The German air raids of 1940 damaged London Hospital, Whitechapel. During World QWar Two, the hospital played a major role in providing emergency medical services to the north and east of London, according to the hospital's web site.


The government authority that oversees the London Fire Brigade signed a contract with a private company to provide backup fire services. The five-year agreement with with AssetCo is worth 12 million pounds - and likely to provoke anger among unions, The Financial Times said.

July 16, 2009


Photo: Stuart Appleby on This is Local London web site
Spectacular view of 15-pump fire at industrial estate on Honeypot Lane, Queensbury, on night of July 15-16, 2009.

July 15, 2009


In the 1890s, firefighters, police and even taxi drivers staffed a fleet of wheeled-stretchers called ``litters'' to take patients to hospitals, according to the London Ambulance Service.

July 07, 2009


Photo: Architects Journal
Memorial in Hyde Park for victims of July 7, 2004, attack on London's transit system


Photos: Wikipedia
On April 8, 1968, BOAC Flight 712 suffered an engine fire after takeoff from London Heathrow Airport and returned to the field for an emergency landing. Flames killed five people, including flight attendant Jane Harrison, who was trying to rescue a disabled passenger. Harrison, 22, was posthumously awarded the George Cross for heroism. The four-engine Boeing 707 had been bound for Australia and was laden with fuel.

July 06, 2009


Photos: Paul Wood (top), on Daily Mirror web site. BBC web site (lower)

On July 3, 2009, fire killed six people in a high-rise apartment building in Camberwell, South London.

Firefighters rescued 40 others as flames engulfed the upper levels of the 12-story Lakanal House. The dead had taken refuge in a bathroom on the 11th floor.

``We worked as fast as we could and rescued many people from the block,'' London Fire Commissioner Rob Dobson said. ``Sadly, and to the huge regret of the crews involved we simply could not reach everyone in time.''

The worst of the disaster was above the reach of the fire brigade's tallest ladders, which extend for roughly 100 feet.

Dobson said the fire brigade arrived ``within minutes of being called'' and that ``crews worked under very difficult and hazardous circumstances to reach people trapped in the building as soon as they were able to.''

About 100 firefighters - staffing 18 pumps, as well as six rescue units and two aerial ladder platforms - were assigned to the fire. Members of the London Ambulance Service and the Metropolitan Police were also on the scene assisting. The incident occurred on the territory of the Peckham Fire Station, E37.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Collins, quoted by the Evening Standard, said: ``Some of the firefighters went back in three or four times. They were working at their very limits. We are extremely proud of them.''