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THE BELFAST FIRE BRIGADE
A HISTORY

By Bill Broadhurst and Harry Welsh

BELFAST INDEX

Home.
Notable Dates Through History.
Belfast Chief Fire Officers.
Fires in Belfast.
Published Book "A History of Belfast Fire Brigade".
Northern Ireland Fire Authority.
Lisburn Fire Brigade.
Northern Ireland Fire Services Historical Society.
Bangor Fire Brigade.
Carrickfergus Fire Brigade.

    An illustration by J.W. Carey.
The burning of Belfast Castle 1708.


On Sunday 25th April 1708 a fire destroyed Belfast Castle which resulted in the deaths
of three daughters of Lady Donegall, Ladies Jane, Frances and Henrietta.
Also a friend of the girls, (the daughter of Parson Berkley) and a servant girl Catherine Douglas.


George Reilly Superintendent of the
   Belfast Fire Brigade 1862-1892.


In 1877 The Police Committee arranged with Messrs Merryweather and Son
to purchase one of their patient long stroke direct acting double cylinder steam fire engines,
capable of pumping 620 gallons of water per minute.


Fire Brigade Ambulance crew
  Chichester Street Belfast 
    with Lord Mayor's Cup.


The Belfast Fire Brigade also operated the Emergency Ambulances throughout the city.
They regularly took part in the many competitions which were held throughout Ireland.


Morris pump No.4 with 50.ft 
   wheeled escape ladder. 
 Belfast Fire Brigade 1912


The Belfast Fire Brigade in 1912 ordered a completely new fleet of motorised fire engines
from John Morris and Sons Limited of Salford in England, to become
the first completely motorised City brigade in the United Kingdom.


Inspection of Brigade, Chichester Street 1938


On 17 November 1938, his Grace The Duke of Abercorn visited the brigade at
the Headquarters Station, where the Lord Mayor and members of the Police Committee welcomed him.
After inspecting the personnel, station and engines, he was given a display of firefighting techniques
with a turnout of the engines as a finale.


National Fire Service. Female dispatch riders.


In the National Fire Service, Firewomen carried out a similar range of duties as their male counterparts
and in addition to operating fire pumps and using other items of firefighting equipment,
were employed in specialist areas such as the motorcycle dispatch rider section.


Fireboat 'The Duchess of Down' Belfast Lough.

The National Fire Service in Belfast had as its riverboat fleet 'The Duchess of Down' 'The Helene' and 'The Sheelah'.
After the war the Sheelah was sold privately for 150, while the Duchess of Down was sold to
the Ministry of Home Affairs for 600 to become part of the newly formed AFS riverboat service in Belfast.
The Helene was also sold to the Ministry and transferred to Londonderry AFS.


Recruit firemen at Brigade Training school Belfast __________________The Fire Brigades Union Banner. May-day Belfast.

The Fire Brigades Union in Belfast was awarded in April 1961 by a reduction of hours from the 72 hour week,
to the 56 hour three shift system. The increase of establishment required to allow for the introduction of
the 56 hour week, and the additional training required for existing firemen to compensate for their loss of hours,
led to the creation of a permanently established Brigade Training School in 1956.


An improvised fleet of water tankers. 
           Belfast April 1969.

During April 1969 the water main from The Silent Valley reservoir and another at Templepatrick,
both supplying Belfast were blown up. As a result, the water supply to the city was severly disrupted
and emergency measures were introduced by the brigade to augment supplies.
Bulk carrying vehicles were borrowed from various firms including, The Milk Marketing Board,
Shell Mex and BP, Esso, Cregagh Dairies, The Wellington Tank Company and Guinness Limited.
The Chief Fire Officer, Captain R Mitchell later stated, 'It must have been a source of wonderment and surprise
to the citizens of Belfast to see firemen pull up at a fire to put it out with what would appear to be
milk, Guinness or indeed petrol. But then again the Fire Service has always been adaptable.'


Blue Watch Chichester Street Belfast. c1972.

A Group photograph of "Blue Watch Chichester Street Belfast" prior to amalgamation with the Northern Ireland Fire Authority. OI/C Station Officer J.Davidson Sub Officer R.McDonald Sub Officer J.Bell. Also included W.Rankin R.Massey J.Martin A.Withers R.Robinson A.Lyle J.Wylie R.Telford E.Baillie B.Oliver R.Stevenson W.Shellard W.Kelly A.Aiken W.Williams J.Truman B.McCormick G.Richardson G.Johnston T.Major


As civil unrest grew in Northern Ireland, Belfast Fire Brigade faced more difficult incidents
in what was to be called 'The Troubles' Under such circumstances the number of injuries
received by firemen rose dramatically, with an average of 25 per cent of them being injured each year.

Station Officer David McCleery being assisted by
 Driver Albert Richie, from fire (result of a bomb)
     at a paint store, Cromac Street Belfast.