Thursday, July 03, 2008

London Fire Brigade Part 2 1982 - 1992

It was around this time that I moved stations, still in North London, this time Harrow. A smaller station with one Pump and a Foam Tender that would cover London's Heathrow airport. I also decided it was time to specialize and I applied to become a driver. At this time to drive a fire engine you simply did a driving course passed your lorry heavy goods vehicle test returned to station and that was all the training you received you were straight in at the deep end so to speak.

These days of course driver training is a lot more involved with blue light training and skid pan training it can take months to qualify. Despite all this additional training the accident rate is considerably higher now than it was 15 or 20 years ago. I passed my test and spent the next 10 years driving all manor of vehicles as well as regular fire engines, foam tenders, hose layers, heavy rescue units, light rescue units, control units and many others. With this qualification I found myself being posted almost anywhere in the London area.

It was in this period that I got my first taste of management the opportunity to act up to leading firefighter and take on additional responsibility, that included office work as well, not something that I was at all familiar with.

The big incident of this period was the Kings Cross Fire on the 18th November 1987 in which 31 people died including one firefighter, King's Cross is one of London's busiest interchanges, and is used by thousands of people daily.

The fire started under one of the wooden escalators an area where debris was allowed to accumulate, this debris caught fire from a discarded cigarette and the rest is history, this event resulted in smoking being banned on all London Underground premises and trains.

After 14 years in the job I was now considered an experienced fire fighter and was at this stage regularly leading crews at incidents. I have had to deal with wide ranging incidents from major fires, road accidents and chemical incidents to cat stuck up a tree, bird stuck up a chimney.
At this time I started to become aware of politics & politicians playing an ever bigger part in the organisation and it's decision making, many decisions being made on purely financial grounds and not on public or staff safety grounds however when these decisions where presented to the media and the public it would be in such a way as to show that it is all for the greater good, of course those people in employment with the London Fire Brigade could see what was being done but any one that made any comment to the media would be labeled a trouble maker, I started to play an ever bigger role within the union.

Tme for another change.

Part three to follow

"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced" Soren Kierkegaard.

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