"Heroes with grimy faces" - Sir Winston Churchill

"Heroes with grimy faces" - Sir Winston Churchill

December 10, 2008

"MEOW 999"


Photo: Euston Fire Station web site
Firefighters in central London go to the aid of "Pancake" the cat, stranded atop a chimney, according to the web site of the Euston Fire Station. www.eustonfirestation.com/

ON THE THAMES

Photo: London Fire Brigade
The fire brigade's Massey Shaw passes the House of Commons towards Lambeth river station in the 1950s.

RESTING AT FIRE

The painting Resting at Fire - oil on canvas by Reginald Mills, 1940 - depicits firemen during the Blitz, according to the London Fire Brigade web site

December 05, 2008

POLITICS

In 1891, the London County Council challenged Eyre Massey Shaw, chief fire officer, for control of the brigade. The council won, and Shaw retired after three decades. The cartoon by Tom Merry in St Stephen's Presentation Review satirised the conflict, according to the London Fire Brigade web site.

December 04, 2008

TELEGRAPH


Photos: LFB web site
Fire stations in 1889 and watch room telegraph

In the 19th Century, Eyre Massey Shaw - the first chief officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade - linked London's fire stations by telegraph.

In his 1867 book ``Fighting the Flames,'' author R. M. Ballantyne explained messages were relayed through a central office in an effort to improve response times and maintain adequate fire cover in each of the brigade's districts.

``When a fire occurs in any part of London ... the fire station nearest to it at once sends out its engines and men, and telegraphs to the head or centre station at Watling Street,'' Ballantyne wrote. (Actual alarms of fire were turned in by neighborhood runners paid a shilling per shout from the station purse.)

``From Watling Street the news is telegraphed to the foremen's stations, whence it is transmitted to the stations of their respective districts, so that in a few minutes after the breaking out of a fire the fact is known to the firemen all over London,'' according to Ballantyne's book.

December 03, 2008

FIREFIGHTER SAFETY

A study by the Fire Brigades Union says 2007 was the deadliest year in more than two decades for the U.K. fire service, with eight firefighters dying on duty. The study cited failure in risk assessment as a leading cause of fatalities. FBU leader Matt Wrack said: ``We have better fire engines, we have better equipment, including personal protective equipment. We have a better understanding of many of the risks we face. In theory at least we have better operational procedures. We should therefore have seen a decline in serious and fatal accidents."

November 04, 2008

DOCKLANDS ABLAZE

Photo: Museum of London
West India Docks, Sept. 7, 1941

The Docklands were a prime target for German bombers during the Blitz of 1940-41, and firefighters faced a variety of hazards.

In the 1949 book ``Fire Service Memoirs,'' Chief Fire Officer Aylmer Firebrace recalled:

``There were pepper fires, loading the surrounding air heavily with stinging particles so that when a fireman took a deep breath it felt like breathing fire itself.

``There were rum fires, with torrents of blazing liquid pouring from the warehouse door and barrels exploding like bombs themselves.

``There was a paint fire, another cascade of white hot flame, coating the pump with varnish that could not be cleaned off for weeks.

``A rubber fire gave forth black clouds of smoke that could only be fought from a distance, always threatening to choke the attackers.''

LADDER CREW - 1910

RETIRED FIREFIGHTERS

The Retired Members Association was formed in 1930. The RMA suspended operations when the fire brigade was nationalized for World War II. In 1948, the RMA was revived, according to its web site. Photos: RMA web site

RAILWAY FLOODING

Photo: London Transport Museum
May 6, 1915 - ``Two horse-drawn fire engines mounted in railway wagons are using steam to pump away flood water from the Metropolitan line tracks. The flooding under Ray Street Grid Iron near Farringdon Underground station followed a severe thunderstorm,'' according to the
Exploring 20th Century London Project.

GENERAL POST OFFICE

Photo: Wikipedia
On Aug. 24, 1912, a fire broke out in the telegraph equipment at the General Post Office at St. Martin's le Grand. According to The New York Times: ``The large force of firemen, who were quickly on the scene, had considerable difficulty in getting at the seat of fire, which was in a compartment containing wires between the instrument gallery and the floor below."

November 03, 2008

GOTHA RAIDS


During World War I, the Central Telegraph Office in London was set ablaze during a German air raid. The attackers were flying Gotha bombers, which replaced the Zeppelins in 1916.
Photos: U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission and BBC

October 31, 2008

LANDLORD IMPRISONED

A landlord has been sent to prison in the first custodial sentence to be given in London under the new fire safety regulations.

Mr Mehmat Parlak was sentenced to four months imprisonment and his company, Watchacre properties limited, were fined £21,000 following conviction for serious breaches of the regulatory reform order (RRO).

The prosecution followed a fatal fire at a flat on Ruskin Road, Tottenham on 16 September 2007. After being removed from the building by firefighters, a man was taken to hospital but died later from his injuries.

Councillor Brian Coleman AM FRSA, Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority which runs the London Fire Brigade said “This fire resulted in a man dying and highlights why landlords and businesses must take their responsibilities under the regulatory reform order seriously. The London Fire Brigade works hard to bring irresponsible companies and individuals to court, which can as this case has shown result in a custodial sentence.”

Sentencing of the company and their Director Mr Parlak, of Wellington Road, Enfield took place at Wood Green Crown Court on 20 October after they pleaded guilty to eight breaches of fire safety.

- London Fire Brigade press release

October 27, 2008

GARRICK'S VILLA


On Oct. 25, 2008, a 10-pump fire swept the former home of David Garrick, the 18th Century Shakespearean actor, in south-west London.
Photo: BBC web site

INCIDENT REPORT
11:29
H43 TWICKENHAM
10 PUMP FIRE, 2 AERIAL LADDER PLATFORMS, 2 HOSE LAYERS, 1 HIGH VOLUME PUMPING UNIT
194020081
GARRICKS VILLA, HAMPTON COURT ROAD, HAMPTON
Building under refurbishment of 3 floors, 36 metres x 20 metres, divided into 9 residential flats. 20% of ground floor damaged by fire, 50% of first floor, 75% of second floor and 75% of roof damaged by fire and collapse. 6 jets, 2 aerial ladder platforms, 3 lightweight portable pumps, 9 metre ladder, breathing apparatus. 6 persons left premises before arrival of brigade.

October 20, 2008

FBU SURVEY

Daily Mirror - Oct. 20, 2008

Firefighters feel they are not valued by the Government and that inadequate funding for training is compromising their safety. The "alarming" discontent is felt by most men and women in the Fire Brigades Union, revealed a poll of 2,000 of its members.

October 16, 2008

PSYCHIATRIC UNIT


On Oct. 15, 2008, a 20-pump fire swept a secure psychiatric unit on the grounds of the Chase Farm Hospital on The Ridgeway in Enfield.

Firefighters apparently encountered low hydrant pressure.

``The fire severely damaged the first floor and the roof of the three storey building,'' according to the London Fire Brigade web site. ``Part of the ground floor was also damaged by the blaze. Firefighters worked hard to stop the fire from spreading to surrounding buildings. ''

Sixty-eight patients were evacuated and no injuries were reported. The Daily Mail said the Camlet 3 facility houses ``mentally ill criminals.''

According to the Enfield Independent: ``About 140 firefighters and 20 fire engines worked through the night to control the blaze at its peak. Relief crews were summoned every four hours from depots throughout London.''

INCIDENT REPORT
18:33
A35 ENFIELD
20 PUMP FIRE, PERSONS REPORTED ALP REQUIRED
187836081
CAMLET LODGE, CHASE FARM HOSPITAL, THE RIDGEWAY, ENFIELD EN2
Secure mental health unit of 2 and 3 floors, 100 metres x 50 metres, 20 percent of ground floor, 75 percent of 1st floor and 75 percent of roof damaged by fire and collapsed, 68 patients and staff evacuated from building before arrival of brigade, led to safe area, in care of hospital staff, 10 jets, breathing apparatus, Ariel ladder platform, closed circuit water relay, thermal image camera, All persons accounted for.

October 15, 2008

GREAT MARLBOROUGH ST.

Photo: Soho Fire Station web site

In 1970, fire swept the building that once served as the Great Marlborough Street fire station, according to the web site of the Soho Fire Station. The Great Marlborough Street station opened in 1887 and closed about 1920.

October 14, 2008

MAN FROM MARS?

Photo: LFB web site
According to the London Fire Brigade web site: ``Fireman wearing a full protective asbestos suit and carrying a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, World War Two .''

BUDGET 'UP IN FLAMES'

On Oct. 13, 2008, the New Statesman reported London Mayor Boris Johnson embarked on a round of budget cuts - including services at the London Fire Brigade.

Following is an excerpt from the article about Johnson and his Tory administration:

Johnson's proposed 15 per cent of cuts or 'savings' to Greater London Authority funding will not come into effect until next year but 28 notifications of potential redundancies have already been issued within London Fire Brigade.

Stating her concern,
(Labour AM Valerie ) Shawcross said: “London's fire service is going up in flames and Boris Johnson is not interested.”

According to statistics produced by the service's Equalities Department 86 per cent of the service is white and male but it is the Equalities and Diversity Training Team that's in greatest danger.

London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) Chairman Brian Coleman said: “We will just cut away the flab that's grown in the the organisation.”

Although many would argue this 'flab' works to prevent discrimination within the service.

The Fire Service's museum and library are also under threat although a passionate campaign against its closure has been launched.

Nothing is yet decided and the official line is that a “range of options are being considered” but when questioned the Boris-appointed chairman said the library would go.

Justifying the threats, Coleman said: “Cuts have to be made. We are in the middle of a recession and people don't have any money. I would have thought that was obvious, even to the New Statesman.”

October 02, 2008

THE GREAT FIRE

In the days before the London Fire Brigade, the Great Fire of London raged for five days during September 1666 - demonstrating the inadequacy of informal bucket brigades.

The conflagration started at the king's bakery on Pudding Lane.

According to the London Fire Brigade's web site, flames destroyed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches and a variety of other buildings - including The Royal Exchange, The Guild Hall and the original St. Paul’s Cathedral.

``The death toll was six people, yet a great many others died through indirect causes,'' such as exposure during the harsh winter that followed, according to the brigade's web site.

Just the same, ``There were some benefits of the fire,'' the web site said. ``One of these was that the black plague which had killed many people was eliminated by the burning down of diseased, rat-infested properties.''

-0-

From Port Cities web site

Towards the end of the 17th century, an insurance industry began to develop in London. One branch of the industry became involved in offering fire policies to owners of buildings. Before long, the insurance companies employed their own fire teams - recruited from the Thames watermen - to put out fires at properties they insured.

To distinguish which buildings were covered by their policies, insurance companies devised 'fire marks' - special metal signs to be placed on the facades of insured buildings.

Unfortunately, private enterprise was not really up to the task of protecting the public. As insurance companies were interested in protecting only their clients, they would usually ignore any properties not insured or insured by other firms.

Even when a company's fire crew did turn up at a blaze, they would often leave the building to burn. Although various compromises were reached, it was not a satisfactory situation.

It took more than a century before it became clear that the free market in fire fighting was not providing adequate protection. In 1833, 19 insurance companies banded together to form the London Fire Engine Establishment.

It was headed by James Braidwood, who had pioneered a similar initiative in Edinburgh. The Establishment had 80 full-time officers, popularly known as 'Jimmy Braiders'.

October 01, 2008

BELLS GO DOWN

Photo: Euston Fire Station web site

September 30, 2008

CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL


Photos: Soho Fire Station web site, Evening Standard

INCIDENT REPORT

08:35
A27 CLERKENWELL
6 PUMP FIRE AND EXPLOSION
176963081
GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL
GREAT ORMOND STREET WC1
Children’s hospital of 8 floors, 100 meters x 100 meters, fire and explosion in cardiac wing on level 5, 50 percent of self contained unit approximately 4 meters x 4 meters damaged by fire. 1 jet, 1 hose reel, dry riser, breathing apparatus, detection identification monitoring equipment, thermal image camera, 23 patients and 12 members of staff evacuated from level 5, all uninjured. Approximately 300 members of public and staff evacuated and relocated in safe areas of the hospital. 4 members of brigade injured suffering shock, removed by London Ambulance Service.

'66'

Photo: Topical Press Agency
Emergency tender firefighters from Clerkenwell don breathing apparatus at a blaze at a rubber plant on Farringdon Street in 1925. At that time, Clerkenwell was designated Fire Station No. 66 as inscribed on the body of the tender. Today, Clerkenwell is designated ``Alpha 27.''

August 29, 2008

LADDER UP!

Photo: How Stuff Works

Classic photo of London Fire Brigade turntable ladder

SEPT. 18, 1940

Photo: Imperial War Museum
AFS recruits

During the Battle of Britain, Sept. 18, 1940 was a costly day for auxiliary fire crews on duty in London's famed Soho district.

German raiders pounded the city for 10 consecutive hours with especially lethal results in Soho.

Nine members of the Auxiliary Fire Service died:
  • Auxiliary Fireman Myer Wand - at Rathbone Place
  • Auxiliary Fireman Robert George - at Rathbone Place
  • Leading Auxiliary Fireman George Bowen - at Rathbone Place
  • Auxiliary Fireman Arthur Batchelor - at Rathbone Place
  • Auxiliary Fireman Benjamin Mansbridge - at Rathbone Place
  • Leading Auxiliary Fireman Jack Bathie - at Rathbone Place
  • Auxiliary Fireman George Abrahart - at Rathbone Place
  • Auxiliary Fireman Harold Gillard - at Oxford Street
  • Auxiliary Fireman Donald Mackenzie - at Oxford Street

August 28, 2008

REGENT III PUMP ESCAPE

Photo: http://www.aecsouthall.co.uk/
MAUDSLAY REGENT III: ``With its low centre of gravity, the AEC Regent III double deck bus chassis was a particularly suitable carriage for a 100' turntable ladder, and in its shortened form, a pump escape,'' according to web site http://www.aecsouthall.co.uk/ ``From March 1950 until April 1957, the Regent III was supplied to fire brigades in the UK and around the world.''

FREDERICK DAVIES

London Auxiliary Fireman Frederick Davies, who died Aug. 23, 1945, was posthumously awarded the George Cross - the highest British award for bravery out of combat - for attempting to rescue two girls from a fire in Harlesden. He was 32.
---
The citation, published in the London Gazette, said the firefighter climbed an escape ladder as flames licked at the front of the building and upon reaching a window "he at once tried to enter but bursts of flame momentarily halted him. Undaunted, however, he climbed into the window with his back to the flames and entered the room. He was seen to endeavour to remove his tunic presumably to wrap it around and protect the children."

CHURCH FIRE


Photos: BBC web site
July 29, 2008
06:51
G36 HAMMERSMITH
15 PUMP PERSONS REPORTED FIRE
136619081
SHEPHERDS BUSH ROAD W6
Church of 1, 2 and 3 floors 20 metres by 35 metres, 70% of first floor, 70% of roof damaged by fire. 6 jets, 2 aerial monitors, breathing apparatus, thermal image camera, all persons accounted for, same as all calls.

July 22, 2008

SHAW VS SHAW

George Bernard Shaw
Eyre Massey Shaw

TIME Magazine - Monday, Dec. 18, 1939

George Bernard Shaw has a cousin, a retired Australian bank manager named Charles M. Shaw. For years Charles's gorge rose at the silly lies told about "Bernard," while he practically choked at the slanders circulated—often by Bernard himself—about the Shaw clan. The Shaws, after all, he says, can be traced all the way back to 12th-Century Scotland, and it was perfectly outrageous for Bernard to portray them as shabby-genteel failures, and to label his own pa a hopeless and horrible drunk.

So Charles finally sat down and wrote a book showing how nice and refined the Shaws were, how they had a proper schooling, visited in high-class homes, Did Things in the world, had knights in the family. One of them was even immortalized (titteringly) in Gilbert & Sullivan's lolanthe:

Oh, Captain Shaw,
Type of true love kept under.†

On the whole, Bernard's Brethren was a not very lively job of escutcheon-polishing. Fortunately Bernard got his mitts on the MS before it was published, and characteristically proceeded to make comments in the margin, restoring family grease stains as fast as Charles rubbed them out. His marginal scrawls were incorporated into the book, are much the most amusing things in it. Samples:

> Charles called their grandmother "beautiful." Bernard: "Come! What about the Wellingtonian nose?"

> Charles mentions Bernard's "strict upbringing." Bernard: "Rubbish! I was brought up anarchically and was a Freethinker before I knew how to think."

> Charles paints a suspiciously pretty picture of two old ladies in the tribe. Bernard: "Really, Charles, you, not I, should have been the dramatist of the family."

> Charles thinks their cousin, Fanny Cashel Hoey, was an impressive Victorian novelist. Bernard: "Fanny was a first-rate literary hack."

> Charles tells a high-romantic tale about Bernard's sister Lucy. Bernard: "Charles, you are a liar."

† Sir Eyre Massey Shaw of the London Fire Brigade. Apparently an accident "deprived him of the full powers of his manhood."

July 17, 2008

SPECIAL SERVICE

London firefighters never know what they'll find ``when the bells go down.''

According to the Epsom Guardian newspaper, firefighters from the Kingston station cut a man from a ``a titanium chastity belt intended for sex games'' on June 27, 2008.

The man, who lost the key, ``spent all day trying to free himself from the device,'' the newspaper said. ``Three machines were needed to cut through the titanium.''

July 07, 2008

LONDON'S BOROUGHS

EDGWARE ROAD FIRE

On June 27, 2008, an 8-pump assignment - eight engines and 40 firefighters - responded to a high-rise fire on Edgware Road in Central London. ``Crews using a turntable ladder rescued four people from the 8th floor,'' according to the London Fire Brigade.

Photo: BBC

June 20, 2008

WALDORF SCHOOL - 2004

Photo: Waldor School web site

On June 26, 2004, fire destroyed the Waldorf School of South West London, which was built primarily of timber. There were no injuries. The fire broke out on a Saturday and classes resumed on Monday on the school's playing fields, according to the BBC.

June 19, 2008

AFTER THE RAID





World War II

Firefighter and child amid the bricks and rubble

Photo: BBC

DOCKHEAD STATION


``Dockhead Fire Station, which appeared in popular TV drama London's Burning, is to be demolished if a planned private finance initiative scheme goes ahead,'' according to the London SE1 community web site.

HOUNSLOW BURNING

Photo: Richmond Twickenham Times

On June 10, 2008, fire swept a block of flats at Bennett Close in Hounslow, according to the Richmond Twickenham Times. Firefighters rescued a man and escorted other occupants to safety, the newspaper said.

INCIDENT REPORT
09:18
G39 FELTHAM
15 PUMP FIRE PERSONS REPORTED
101467081
BENNETT CLOSE HOUNSLOW
Block of flats of 3 and 4 floors, 30m x 20m, 30% of 1st floor damaged by fire, 35% of 2nd floor damaged by fire, 40% of 3rd floor damaged by fire, 75% of roof damaged by fire and partial collapse. 1 person rescued from 1st floor flat by breathing apparatus crew via internal staircase, 11 persons led to safety by breathing apparatus crews from various floors, 8 persons escaped from various floors before arrival of brigade. 4 jets, 1 aerial ladder platform monitor, 1 hydraulic platform monitor, damage control tender, hose layer and water relay.

SUB-STATION FIRE


On June 8, 2008, firefighters extinguished a fire at the Sydenham Park Road electric sub-station in Forest Hill, the BBC said. The fire caused a power outage.
Photo: BBC

May 16, 2008

May 08, 2008

SOUTH HARROW BLAST


Photo: BBC web site

On May 7, 2008, an explosion caused the collapse of two homes at Stanley Road, South Harrow.

``Two people were taken to hospital and following a search of the premises the body of a man was discovered,'' the London Fire Brigade said. ``At the height of the incident six fire engines and around 30 firefighters were at the scene.''

John Gaffney, a fire brigade station manager quoted by the BBC, said firefighters used ``specialist listening equipment'' to search the rubble for casualties.

May 05, 2008

BUNCEFIELD DEPOT - 2005

The London Fire Brigade provided assistance for the Buncefield oil depot explosion at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire on Dec. 11, 2005. he depot is located about 25 miles northwest of London. (Submitted by our OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT )

MORE PHOTOS:
http://www.buncefield-oil-fire-hemel-hempstead.wingedfeet.co.uk/

April 07, 2008

BRIXTON - 15 PUMPS

APRIL 5, 2008

``Fifteen fire engines and around 75 firefighters were called to a blaze at a shop with offices above on Brixton Road,'' according to a London Fire Brigade press release. ``The fire badly damaged the ground floor and completely destroyed the building's first, second and third floors and roof.''

Photo: BBC