Fire and Rescue Service Celebrates 40th Anniversary

A special church service has been held to mark 40 years since the formation of  Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

Former Chief Fire Officer Andrew Best, Chief from 1989 to 1999, joined invited guests including Lord Mayor of Liverpool Gary Millar and the Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy along with firefighters from the past and present at the event in Liverpool. The Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside is Dame Lorna Muirhead DBE also attended the service along with Mayors from across Merseyside including St Helens, Sefton and Wirral.

The Service, which was attended by more than 100 people, marked the point that eight separate brigades were brought together to form the Merseyside Fire Brigade on April 1, 1974.

In 2000 the Service was renamed Merseyside Fire Service and in 2003 it was again renamed Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, reflecting the range of skills and equipment firefighters now use in responding to house fires, crashes on the roads, building collapses and flooding.

The current Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Dan Stephens gave a reading at the service at  Liverpool Parish Church.

He said: “Although there have been many changes to the fire and rescue service on Merseyside not least the reduction in fire deaths from 30 in 1974 to below 10 over the last few years, two things have not changed. That is the professionalism and dedication of the staff who make-up the Service and I pay tribute to them.

“This Service of Thanksgiving, attended by those who served in the past and now, is a fitting event to remember the contribution these individuals have all made to the Merseyside population.”

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority members were also at the Service.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Heritage and Education Centre has a host of memorabilia on show including the F8 which was in Service in 1974 in Merseyside. The centre is based at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s headquarters in Bridle Road in Bootle.

Groups wishing to visit the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Heritage and Education Centre should make an appointment by calling 0151 296 4640 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).
FACT FILE:

  • In 1974 as part of wider local government reform the Brigades serving the City of Liverpool, the County Boroughs of Birkenhead, Bootle, St Helens, Southport and Wallasey together with parts of the Counties of Cheshire and Lancashire were amalgamated.
  • The Brigade in 1974 then manned 66 pumps, 11 aerial appliances and nine emergency tenders based at 34 stations, two of which served the airport. They were supported by the tenders of the Liverpool Salvage Corps and seven separate control rooms.
  • Half of the biggest fires to have occurred on Merseyside since 1974 took place within the first 5 years after formation; fire deaths averaged 30 people per year and domestic smoke detectors, home fire safety checks and
    Community Fire Stations were unheard of.
  • In 1974 there were over 60,000 999 calls received and the long hot summer of 1976 saw all time record call numbers.

 Picture: Tony Thomas