2018 marks the centenary year of our union. Originally called the Firemen’s Trade Union (FTU), the formation of the organisation was complicated but the first rule book records the foundation date as 1 October 1918.
It is a great achievement for us to reach our centenary and we should pay tribute to the earlier generations who fought against the odds to build an organisation for firefighters, run by firefighters. Marking our first hundred years is an opportunity to look back but also to look to the future and to re-build and re-state our case for a genuinely modern fire and rescue service which properly protects the public and those who work within it.
We have agreed the following key aims for the year:
- To promote and celebrate the work of firefighters and the fire and rescue service.
- To commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of those killed and injured in the line of duty.
- To celebrate the FBU’s role in the development of the firefighting profession, shaping the modern fire and rescue service and improving public safety.
- To celebrate the FBU’s hundred-year history of independent firefighter trades unionism.
- To celebrate the contribution of the FBU to the wider labour and trade union movement.
- To celebrate the work and achievements of the FBU in representing firefighters, campaigning for improvements, promoting fairness and equality and organising to defend our service, our jobs and working conditions.
There are various events, initiatives and publications planned for the year and all members, current and retired, are encouraged to play a part. Brigade Committees are currently considering what might be arranged locally. I draw your attention to the following early events:
- Tuesday 23 January: 60th anniversary of Smithfield market fire (1958)
The FBU has organised a commemorative event and is planning to erect a plaque in memory of Jack Fourt-Wells and Dick Stocking who died at this fire. It proved to be a turning point in the debate about Breathing Apparatus and BA control procedures.
- Sunday 4 February: commemoration of death of Sister Fleur Lombard, Avon (1996)
This annual event commemorates the loss of Sister Fleur Lombard, the first woman firefighter to be killed on duty in the post-war period. This year it will be followed by the screening in Bristol of a new film commissioned by the FBU: The Firefighters’ Story.
- Wednesday 28 March: commemoration of Cheapside fire, Glasgow (1960)
This annual event organised by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service commemorates the largest peace time loss of fire service lives at the fire in Cheapside Street in 1960. The FBU is planning to follow this with a screening of our new film: The Firefighters’ Story.
- Friday 4 May: Firefighters’ Memorial Day
Firefighters’ Memorial Day was launched in the UK last year. It saw FBU members at stations, controls and other fire service workplaces hold a minute’s silence to remember those who have given their lives in the line of duty in the fire and rescue service. It was called by the Firefighters’ Memorial Trust with the support of the FBU and of many Chief Fire Officers. In our centenary year we hope it will be marked in every fire and rescue service across the UK and at every station, control and other service workplace. Brigade Committees may wish to hold Firefighters 100: FBU centenary events such as film showing and discussions.
More details of these will follow and further events and initiatives will be announced during the year. We hope that all members, current and retired, will find something of value and interest in our various plans. Most importantly, we want you to be involved.
“The past we inherit, the future we build.”