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Manchester old London Road Fire Station
Fire Engine Photos
No: 41029   Contributor: Stephen Cameron   Year: 2018   Country: United Kingdom
Manchester old London Road Fire Station

This shows the accommodation for firefighters and their families and the tower.
Picture added on 09 August 2018 at 11:18
add commentComments:
Stephen:

Interesting series of photos!

I wonder if many British fire stations still have residential accommodation for firefighters?

Added by Rob Johnson on 13 August 2018.
Hi Rob

I can’t speak for other areas but my own (West Yorks) has no residential accommodation to my knowledge. When Leeds ran its own city fire brigade, before being absorbed into WYFRS, several stations had houses by the stations specifically for crews, and the central Leeds station had a large block of flats opposite for crews and families. Sadly in the current financial situation (WYFRS has had at least a 25% cut in central government funding) providing residential accommodation is out of the question.

I find all this very sad. The wonderful and extraordinary Manchester station (read its history) showed
immense civic pride that just isn’t present now.

The accountants are in charge.

Added by Steve on 19 August 2018.
Steve:

So true! It is not only in this example of firefighter accommodations but in many others.

Fire service staffing and equipment cutbacks are reducing fire protection to Third World levels in many places in the UK - and are far below what you can find in many other European countries, not to mention other less economically developed corners of the World.

Added by Rob Johnson on 21 August 2018.
That’s no exaggeration Rob. I actually think my own county has now been reduced to a skeleton service. To give two examples, the station covering my area, a pretty dense collection of housing, industrial units, schools, electric railway, retail parks etc. has only one engine, and the station is only manned from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., being then reduced to a retained status. In Bradford, two stations, Shipley and Idle, were closed and replaced with one, which has only one engine. This means a large area of North Bradford is covered by just one station with one engine. At the same time, traffic congestion is dire.

I look at the many places like France where the emergency services are funded with regard to the welfare of their people and wish we could return to something like First World cover.

Added by Steve on 22 August 2018.
Steve:

I have commented many times on this site - and in many other places elsewhere - that it is high time the UK fire services learned from the examples of almost every other country in the World and started using unpaid volunteers to man less busy fire stations. France is a good example - where 75% of all firefighters are volunteers, but it is typical rather than being an exception.

This reduces costs dramatically, as payroll accounts for 75% of fire service costs when a brigade is exclusively employing paid personnel - whether full-time or retained.

But it also increases the numbers of fire stations, fire trucks and firefighting personnel who are available. France has, for example, almost three times as many firefighters per head of population as the UK - and Germany is much higher still.

I lived for many years in Manhasset, a densely populated suburban town of 43, 000 right next to New York City. We had an all-volunteer fire department with five fire stations staffed by over 200 volunteers, none of whom was ever paid a cent.

Responding to 1200 fire calls and 700 EMS calls a year, they operated a modern fleet of 11 pumps, 3 aerials, 3 ambulances, 2 rescue trucks and 5 chief's cars.

As the stations were close together, two or three could respond very quickly to every first alarm. When my own house caught fire, the first crew and a Deputy Chief were there in minutes and knew exactly what to do to save my home.

Even big cities are served by volunteers. Santiago in Chile has 5.5 million citizens and its fire stations are all exclusively volunteer. Tokyo - with 9.2 million (more than London) has 80 large full-time fire stations but more than 200 additional volunteer fire companies, while Berlin with 3.5 million people has 34 full time and 54 volunteer stations. And so on throughout the World....

The Bain report on the future of the British Fire Service thought up lots of ways of cutting costs, but did not look at any foreign fire service. It completely ignored what has been proven in almost every other country to be the most cost-effective way of protecting the population from fires, accidents and other disasters...

The tragic Grenfell Tower fire so sadly illustrates the point of continued cost-cutting. It was first attended by four pumps with 20 personnel. No aerial, no rescue, no senior officer. Where I live now, in Chicago, any high rise fire automatically results in the initial dispatch of four engines, two aerials, a two piece rescue company, three chiefs and a CFD ambulance - with a total of over 40 personnel. If London had responded initially with this level of resources, then perhaps the outcome might have been less disastrous, despite the cladding problem.

Even in cities like Tehran, Iraq, it is the SOP for an aerial to be used as a water tower at high rise fires to inhibit external vertical extension of a fire - London did not even dispatch one until nearly an hour after the first alarm!

These days the entire London area has thirteen aerials, down from 28 thirty years ago - but the numbers of tall buildings have not been reduced.

Compare this to smaller European cities like Paris with 63 or Berlin with 34 - even tiny Luxembourg with less than 500, 000 people has nineteen...

I do also take your point too about traffic congestion. One advantage of having lots of small volunteer stations even in big cities is that the staff are drawn from people who live and work very near the fire stations who can turn out quickly, and they then do not have to drive too far to get to an incident. Turning out a full time crew in thirty seconds does nothing if they then have to fight their way through solid traffic to get to a more distant incident...

Added by Rob Johnson on 23 August 2018.
Thanks for the information Rob. I knew other countries, especially Germany and the US, used volunteers but had no idea it was on such a big scale and worldwide. Unfortunately the authorities not looking abroad at services does not surprise
me. The use of volunteers would indeed improve our situation. But getting there... It can even be difficult getting paid retained crews sadly.


Added by Steve on 24 August 2018.
Tehran is, of course, in Iran - not Iraq! At least it was last time I was there.

I think my geography is perhaps not quite as bad as my typing skills, or lack of them...

Added by Rob Johnson on 26 August 2018.
Steve:

I agree, there is no tradition of volunteer engagement in the British fire service (except for rural Scotland), but the lifeboat service has been all volunteer for decades, so the idea is not all that far-fetched.

If the public really knew how sparse firefighting resources are becoming, I think you might well see a lot of people coming forward to volunteer.

The old AFS was not paid, as I understand it, and it had enough members in its day for most full time stations to have at least one AFS pump.

You don't necessarily have to have huge numbers. If you want to man two pumps with ten riders, a force of 40 volunteers is roughly in line with what most countries will have. Our local department required that every member responded to at least 25% of all alarms.

Even in a small town with a mere 5, 000 people, this is only around 1.3% of the working age population - and firefighters don't have to be male. (Nearly 20% of French fire service volunteers are female). Nor is the service closed to retirees, if they are fit and in good health.

Although there are exceptions, most European and North American fire services are tasked to respond to structure fires with at least twelve and usually fifteen or sixteen firefighters, and many more at industrial, commercial, institutional and high rise incidents. These standards have been reduced in many areas of the UK and the impetus is clearly to just keep cutting.

We have communities with budgetary problems here too, and the level of response in towns which operate small full-time departments can be terrifying. I have seen three engines and a truck with a total of seven crew. Get a real fire and what do they do? Call in volunteer fire companies from surrounding communities!

Added by Rob Johnson on 29 August 2018.
Garden City is one of only three fire departments among the 190 in Nassau County, Long Island, New York which employs any full-time paid firefighters in addition to their unpaid volunteers.

The city, population 22, 000, has just decided to dismiss them and rely exclusively on unpaid volunteers. They operate three engines, two aerials and a rescue squad out of three fire stations with just over 100 active unpaid volunteers.

The rationale was that, although the full-time staff could crew one appliance 24/7 with a skeleton crew of three or four more quickly, they were based at only one of the three stations, so that they were actually responding more quickly to only about half of all calls, based on the incidents' locations.

In addition, their small crew could not achieve much without backup from the volunteers anyway, so they were getting called out too in any case...

The equation was that it was better to have a slightly slower response with adequate numbers of units and personnel than a more rapid turnout of a single appliance with a marginal manning level.

Added by Rob Johnson on 30 August 2018.
There is a programme on Channel 5 TV (UK) about this wonderful building, with Michael Portillo, on Friday 9th November at 9 p.m. I hope it does justice to it.

Added by Steve on 03 November 2018.
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