THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Belfast to get ‘flying squad’ of firemen

From the News Letter, August 4, 1933

The Fire Brigade dealing with a fire at the Victoria Square site in Belfast city centre in 2007. Picture: Brian Little/News Letter archives
The Fire Brigade dealing with a fire at the Victoria Square site in Belfast city centre in 2007. Picture: Brian Little/News Letter archives

The Belfast Fire Brigade was to have a “flying squad” in the form of section which will be able to leave the Headquarters Station within about six seconds from the receipt of a call, and was to be available day and night.

This announcement had been made by the Chief Officer (Mr J Smith) at a meeting of the Corporation Police Committee which had been held the previous day reported the News Letter. Councillor Lieutenant Commander R M Harcourt (High Sheriff) was presiding at the meeting.

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The committee had again under consideration the question of closing of Spiers Place Fire Station.

This subject had been considered in November 1932, and at the request of a deputation of residents from the Shankill Road area, the decision had been postponed for six months.

The chief officer strongly recommended the closing of the station, as doing so, he said, would enable to re-organise the brigade “in a manner which would lead to more efficient and expeditious service” and that would result in a detachment of the brigade from headquarters being able to reach any point the city, “even the Shankill Road area”, quicker than a section could so from Spiers Place.

He explained that his intention was to have what he might describe as a “Flying Squad”, and he was satisfied that such an arrangement would add greatly to the efficiency of the brigade in the city. In addition, the closing of Spiers Place Fire Station would mean a saving of approximately £500 per annum.

The committee, in view of the facts submitted by the chief officer, decided to recommend to the council to sanction the closing down of Spiers Fire Station and the transfer of the staff and equipment, “some to headquarters and others to the Ardoyne Station”.

The chief officer reported that since last meeting the brigade had turned out in answer to 29 calls of fire, and the ambulances had responded to 439 cases.

“The delivery of the new ambulance,” he said, “made available for disposal one of the old vehicles, which was not suitable for further use in the brigade, and a request had been made for the vehicle be transferred for the use the sanatorium at Whiteabbey.”

The committee unanimously agreed to present one of the old ambulances to the Tuberculosis Committee for use the Sanatorium, and Councillor Cochrane (chairman of the Tuberculosis Committee) expressed that committee’s thanks for the gift.

Meanwhile, a letter was read from the general manager (Mr S Berkeley) of the Belfast Steamship Company Ltd, expressing appreciation of the excellent work of the brigade in dealing with a fire the MV Ulster Queen at Donegall Quay on July 31st. Mr Berkeley expressed the view that the prompt and efficient work of the brigade had prevented what “otherwise might have been a very serious loss”.

The committee were gratified by the receipt of the communication, and complimented the chief officer and the members of the Fire Brigade on their efficiency.