By Shane Ewen (auth.)
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Additional info for Fighting Fires: Creating the British Fire Service, 1800–1978
The Police Board inherited small manual engines from the Court Leet in 1792, which were manned by volunteers. The Sun and Royal Exchange also provided supplementary engines. From 1799, 22 retained ﬁremen were recruited from within the ranks of the town’s watchmen, and placed under the control of an ‘Inspector of Engines and Conductor of Firemen’. 47 Technological difﬁculties increasingly undermined ﬁreﬁghting operations because the engines were too small to extinguish ﬁres in the growing factories and warehouses.
61 For Braidwood, the best ﬁremen were skilled tradesmen, locally recruited, whose malleable bodies had a heightened sensory awareness of ﬁre, water and wind. Slaters, carpenters, masons, plumbers and blacksmiths were preferred, all of whom were acquainted with tough manual work under arduous conditions. They were ‘more robust in body, and better able to endure the extremes of heat, cold, wet, and fatigue, to which ﬁremen are so frequently exposed, than men engaged in more sedentary employments’.
59 Conclusion In their efforts to control social and environmental problems during the ﬁrst four decades of the nineteenth century, municipal governments had 28 Fighting Fires to carefully manage ﬁnite resources. Mistakes were undoubtedly made, such as Glasgow Police Board’s decision to levy inappropriate expenses for sending its engines and ﬁremen to suburban ﬁres. In Manchester, political agreement to re-organize ﬁre protection only emerged following a series of large ﬁres during which public and private brigades competed as much for urban authority as they did for control of limited water supplies.