Increasingly forgotten, as time passes, is the fact that prior to the formation of the National Fire Service in August 1941 Fire Brigades were operated by the Police Service.
Local authorities realised that in disciplined and trained police officers they had the opportunity to ask them to perform dual roles as both crime and fire fighters, thus providing protection against fire at no additional cost.
In some cases, all the police service were trained to fight fires and in others a small number of staff were recruited as ‘Police Firemen’. They were specifically employed for fire fighting duties. These became known by the nickname ‘Fire Bobbies’. All the officers were sworn Constables and came under the control of the Chief Constable.
At large fires police officers on patrol would respond to assist their Police Firemen colleagues. Sometimes, off-duty officers would respond from their homes located at or near the local station. In some case, designated officers had their ‘beat’ close to the fire station so that they could respond quickly when required.
Then, as in the present, the role of the police and fire service has always been an inherently dangerous one.
It can be seen that many of the names recorded in the Roll of Honour displayed in the National Police Memorial in The Mall that there are many names of Police Firemen who lost their lives in the service of their communities.
On Sunday 9th September The Trust were honoured to attend the annual Firefighters Memorial Trust Service of Remembrance in the City of London to all the Police Firemen who paid the ultimate price.
A memorial service was held at the church of St Sepulchre – without – Newgate, Holborn Viaduct, London. The service was attended by representatives of all the U.K’s Fire and Rescue services. Also present was Sir Craig Mackee, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
Later at the National Firefighters Memorial at St.Paul’s Cathedral our Chair, Mrs. Winner laid a floral tribute in memory of all those firefighters killed in the course of their duty.