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States of Jersey Fire and Rescue Service

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The States of Jersey Fire Service, under that name, first came into being in 1938. The States, faced with the threat of war, took over the St. Helier Fire Brigade which had originally been formed in September 1901. It is known that “Fire Engines” were available in the Island from at least as early as the mid-eighteenth century. In more ancient times, the various Fiefs had to protect their tenants and to that end they are believed to have provided men-at-arms with buckets to attend fires. This arrangement appears to have continued until the insurance companies provided manual pumps, hoses and escape ladders. In 1807 it appears that a fire engine was presented to the Parish of St. Helier by the Royal Exchange Insurance Company and in 1835 the Sun Fire Office also presented a fire engine to the Parish. It seems that further engines were presented in 1837 by the West of England Insurance Company and the Norwich Union and these were followed by the purchase by the States of three manual engines for the Ports of St. Helier, St. Aubin and Mont Orgueil. For many years a garrison of troops was maintained in the Island and this garrison of course had its own firefighting equipment with which it would assist at civil fires if requested to do so. In September 1901 the St. Helier Fire Brigade was formed and consisted of the Chief Officer, a Second Officer, Foreman and 12 Firemen, all volunteers. In 1902 the St. Helier Fire Brigade was housed at the Town Hall and remained there until after World War 1. The first appliance was a horse drawn manual and during the first year 23 fire calls were dealt with. In July 1905 the manual was replaced by a Shand Mason steamer and, after the fashion of those days, this was named “Lord St. Helier”. Mr. Eady, the man responsible for forming the original Brigade in 1901 continued as Chief Officer until 1915 when he was succeeded by Mr. Gale who remained in charge until 1924, being succeeded by Mr. “Joe” Remphry. One of the very early calls to the St. Helier Brigade was to a hotel fire at Greve de Lecq - the firemen arrived at the incident, a distance of about seven miles from the town of St. Helier, in 45 minutes. The following local press report has been preserved:“This morning’s turn out was practically the first that the newly formed St. Helier Fire Brigade has had to respond to and the smartness with which they mustered and performed their duties make it evident that we have at least in St. Helier an efficient Fire Brigade.” Reorganisation came in 1923 when the equipment room at the Town Hall was required for other purposes and, motor vehicles having been acquired, the Brigade moved to what had been the Town Arsenal in Nelson Street. In 1938 the States of Jersey took over the Service from the Parish. An auxiliary Fire Service was also formed in view of the threat of war. For much of the period 1939-1945 the Island was occupied by German Forces and many serious fires were attended in buildings occupied by German troops whose carelessness, where fire risks were concerned, became renowned. After the war, a spate of serious fires led to further reorganisation and in 1950 a new Chief Officer, Mr. F.L. Edmonston, was appointed. Mr. Edmonston, who continued as Chief Officer until 1966, had served for many years in the Manchester area of the United Kingdom and in 1950 he set about building up the Service. More appliances, including a Turntable Ladder, were purchased and in 1954 the Fire Station was moved to its present location in Rouge Bouillon. The year 1961 brought with it a liability to engage in inshore marine rescue and a Zodiac type inflatable rescue craft was purchased and this new service to Islanders was provided by the Fire Service. In 1977, after strong recommendations over a number of years by H.M. Inspectors of Fire Services and Chief Fire Officer W. Mahoney, a Western Sub Fire Station was opened at Route des Quennevais, St. Brelade. As year by year demands increase (an average of 2,700 incidents a year have been dealt with since 1986) so the States Fire Service continues to develop its training and equipment in order to keep abreast of modern developments and techniques in to carry out its commitment to the community to: (i) save life; (ii) protect property from fire and the effects of fire; (iii) render humanitarian services; (iv) assist in safeguarding the environment. For more Information please see: http://www.gov.je/HomeAffairs/Fire/default.htm

Names

States of Jersey Fire and Rescue Service

Keywords

fire services | firemen | fire brigades | Fires | fire fighting | states departments online

Level of description

fonds

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