Tuesday, July 22, 2008

London Fire Brigade Part 3. 1992 - 2005.

A change of stations again this time to Finchley in north London, I was looking this time for a change in direction and to specialize, Finchley had what was known at the time as an ET or emergency rescue tender later would become known as an FRU (fire rescue unit) and I needed further training to qualify to use all the specialist equipment carried on these trucks. I arrived at Finchley on the white watch, the station had three trucks pump, pump ladder and FRU.
I completed my course and achieved the relevant qualifications. A Fire Rescue Unit (FRU) is a special type of rescue vehicle used by the London Fire Brigade.

A major incident from this time was in April 1993 when at the height of the IRA,s bombing campaign, in London's financial district an IRA lorry bomb devastates the Bishopsgate area, killing one and wounding 44.

FRUs are equipped with heavy lifting, winching, cutting and pulling tools, floodlighting, longer duration breathing apparatus (vital for rescuing people from tunnels deep underground) and portable generators and other specialised equipment. FRU crews are specially trained and equipped to handle complex rescues, including those from road and rail accidents, water, mud and ice, urban search and rescue incidents such as collapsed buildings, chemical spills and difficult rescues at height. These vehicles would later play a major role in the July 7th 2005 London bombings.
Nine of the Brigade’s existing fleet of Fire Rescue units were mobilised to the London bombings of 7 July 2005 and since then the LFB has upped its number of FRUs from 10 (including one reserve) to 16, but not before first cutting the FRU's from ten to nine. A study took place on behalf of the politicians and all the results were produced to prove that the LFB could afford to reduce the FRU's by one, this would save money, £900,000.00 a year, bloody politicians, at the time the protests of the people on the front line were ignored.
It took the tragedy the July 7th London Bombings to change the minds of the politicians, it is not a nice way of saying 'I told you so'. It is sadley ironic that I was at school with one of the victims killed in this incident.

I attended many tragic and sometimes disturbing incidents in the time that I was involved with the FRU's but at the same time it gave another dimension to the job and was a very interesting part of my career.
The final part will follow.
"Our lives teach us who we are". Salman Rushdie

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