As eary as Jul 1939, British firefighters prepared for war near London

Caption   As eary as Jul 1939, British firefighters prepared for war near London ww2dbase
Source    ww2dbaseUnited States National Archives
Identification Code   306-NT-901-19
More on...   
Battle of Britain   Main article  Photos  Maps  
Added By C. Peter Chen
Added Date 24 Oct 2006

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
16 Dec 2007 03:14:58 AM

It soon became apparent to the Government that the Fire Brigades could not cope with the carpet of incendiary bombs that fell nightly on Britains Cities during the Blitz, and more help would be required from the community at large.

Mr. Herbert Morrison, the Minister of Supply, insisted that the Fire-Watchers Service, which until that time had been entirely voluntary, should be made compulsory, and that Local Authorities should be required to enrol men aged between sixteen and sixty for Fire Watching Partys To man positions on the roofs of buildings, plotting the fall of incendaries and taking such immediate steps to put out the flames where possible.

The problem arose however, that nobody had thought to consult the Trade Unions. These considered that compulsory Fire-Watching duties by workers to protect their employers premises amounted to unpaid and risky overtime. Large numbers of workers across the country simply refused to comply with the regulations.

In Norwich, out of 25,000 men required to register as Fire-Watchers, 24,750 claimed exemption, 80 per cent of these on the grounds that thay were already Fire-Watching.

Conscientious Objectors were not exempt from Fire-Watching duties either. Numerous prosecutions were brought against employers who refused to make Fire-Watching arrangements. On the 19th of September 1942 the compulsory principle was extended to include Women (except those who were pregnant or had children under fourteen living at home). Women between the ages of twenty and forty five being required to register to take their turns at Fire-Watching duties, either at Work or at the disposal of the Local Authorities.

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