The union joined many others in sending money in support of Spanish republicans fighting in the civil war against military dictator General Francisco Franco.
This was at a time of great political uncertainty across Europe, with the rise of fascism in many countries, including Germany and Italy. At the FBU conference that year the union devoted more attention to the wider political issues of the labour movement and steps to safeguard peace, while democracy against fascism featured high on the agenda.
A hard-hitting speech by East Ham delegate Harry Short argued that it was no use leaving it to the government to fight for peace and democracy. London Fire Brigade’s John Horner called for a “peace front” against fascist regimes. Their resolution was overwhelmingly supported.
Ten years later the union was still supporting the cause. In the December 1945 edition of The Firefighter, Spanish republicans sent their thanks to the Lancaster and Morecambe branch of the union for:
"Making the lot of these unfortunate comrades easier...among other things, the branch procured for their Spanish comrades games and a radio set."
The TUC had also set up a Spanish Workers Fund in which money from affiliated trade unions, among them the FBU, was poured in. More than 3,000 trade union committees and branches paid regular sums for aid and relief.
The money raised was then channelled through the International Federation of Trade Unions to be used to help pay for emergency medical aid and food sent to Spain, as well as to help the families of the International Brigad
The strength of feeling in the union regarding this historic event was still felt many years later. Remembering the civil war, an editorial in The Firefighter in 1955 writes:
"The Spanish War was for millions of people all over the world a symbol of the peoples’ struggles against barbarism."