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Forum Home > Memorabilia From the past. > Fire Brigades.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Showells Brewery, Fire Brigade.


For about 200 years, there have been a body of men, prepared at times, to put their lives at risk, to save the population from Fire. They may not always have had the best equipment, and some of them may have been a drunken rabble, but they were all that stood between us and an all consuming conflagation. It must have been quite a sight, watching an old horse drawn appliance, bell clanging, going hell for leather through the cobbled streets of the Black Country. An even more fearsome sight when pulling a huge brass equiped steam-pump, itself belching smoke and flames, and the men clinging on for dear life. No wonder so many kids wanted to be Firemen and Engine drivers. Early on, they were all volunteers, mostly drawn from the local Police Force, with a variety of hand pumps, some pulled by horses, some by the men. A great many factories had their own little Brigade's, and they tended to be much better equiped than the local authority could afford. Indeed, when the fire was a large one, these works units were called out to assist. Showells Brewery, in Oldbury, was one such outfit, and a fine body of men they looked. There have also been some truly outstanding Chief Officers as well. We do tend to take for granted, that they will turn up in short time when called, which of course, was not always the case. The Brigades of today are a dedicated and highly trained force, with state of the art equipment. A look at the pictures in the Gallery will make you wonder how they managed in the past, but manage they did. Long may they continue.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 15, 2011 at 4:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Firemen.


I have been reminded, that up until the second World War, all the Fire Brigades were controlled by the local Councils or Urban District's. They had a slightly different way of doing things then. For a start, they had the power to charge for attendence at large fires, and where neccessary, to demand that the crew were supplied with " refreshments ". The bare essentials seemed to be Bread, Cheese, and Beer. This would explain why some fires took several days to bring under control. Semi-rural Brigades, handling a grass, hay, or barn fire, almost always took longer than when putting out a house fire. ( now I wonder why that was? ) Obviously, with no telephone system, the response times were quite lengthy, even more so when horses had to be rounded up, and harnessed. It could be a very profitable side line, volunteering for duty, as there was also an attendence fee involved as well. Some of the early fireman were not above setting a small blaze, just to boost the pay a little. Other problems arose from all the different hose connections used, especially when a works Brigade was requested to help. There was also no laid down standards, for maintaining the equipment either, and disasters frequently happened. The fire in Smethwick, a report of which can be found in another post, ( Death and Destuction ) was just one of many unfortunate incidents. Plans were already afoot however, for a National Fire Service, and a good job too, they would be sorely needed. The Service came into being in 1941, and together with it's reserve units, the Auxiliary Fire Service, showed outstanding bravery during the many air-raids. I should also add, from the Women, as well as the Men, who formed a large part of the reserve force. No beer was issued this time though, just Tea, Toast, and biscuits from the Mobile Canteens.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 18, 2011 at 11:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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