A new website examining 100 years of fire service history has been launched today (9 April) as part of plans to mark the centenary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Visitors to the site will be able to explore the ways in which the union has contributed to the safety of both the public and firefighters through campaigns to introduce fire safety legislation and develop more effective firefighting equipment.

A historical timeline highlights major events in the FBU’s history as well as the union’s response to some of the most devastating fires in the UK, including the Rose & Crown hotel fire that led to the deaths of 11 guests in 1969. The FBU campaigned for the development of the legislation that still shapes fire safety regulation across all hotels today.

A series of long-form features explore periods of the union’s history in depth such as the development of the Auxiliary Fire Service during the Second World War that resulted in a huge membership growth for the union – from 3,500 members to 66,500. Users will also be able to browse the historical editions of the union’s journal, Firefighter, dating back to 1932.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said:

“In our centenary year, we want to celebrate the work of firefighters and the FBU who over ten decades have shaped the modern fire and rescue service and have, immeasurably, improved public safety. Far fewer people die in fires today than 100 years ago. This is not a happy accident – it is a result of the union and its members campaigning relentlessly for changes over the last century.

“When the union was first formed, firefighters had the most primitive protective equipment, were forced to live on stations full time, had no access to pensions and were paid less than unskilled labourers. Although the situation for firefighters today is far from perfect, the improvements we have seen are the result of campaigns run by the union.”

The FBU wants the centenary website to become a hub for fire service history and the site will be updated with new content frequently.

Discover the people, incidents and stories behind the FBU’s 100-year journey at: www.fbu.org.uk/centenary

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