'Once in a generation' commemorative event for firefighters as their union celebrates 100 years of service

The largest ever ceremonial event for firefighters killed in the line of duty will take place in London on 13 October in a once in a generation event.

As part of celebrations to mark 100 years since the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) was formed, the day will begin with a formal wreath-laying ceremony at the National Firefighters’ Memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral. More than 50 wreaths will be laid in memory of fallen firefighters representing every fire service in the UK.

Following this ceremony, a formal procession will be led across the Millennium Bridge to Southwark Cathedral. Here, a service will commence including readings, poetry, storytelling and music to celebrate 100 years of the FBU.

The voices of firefighters will be heard at the Southwark service as a group of members from across the UK will read out a selection of personal accounts and adapted historical testimonies from incidents such as the London Blitz on New Year’s Eve in 1940 and last year’s Grenfell Tower fire.

The FBU has teamed up with the Daily Mirror to stream the Southwark ceremony live on their website (www.mirror.co.uk/fbu)

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “This is a once in a generation event, the largest of its kind, which will celebrate the fire and rescue service, our union and commemorate the friends we have lost along the way.

“When our union was first formed firefighters lived on stations, had the most basic protective equipment and were paid less than unskilled labourers. Today’s fire service is far from perfect but the improvements we have seen are the result of campaigns run by our members over 100 years.

“In our centenary year, we have been celebrating the work of firefighters who have shaped the modern fire and rescue service and improved the safety of our communities. Reflecting on the experiences of our proud past can guide us in strengthening our union for the future.”

The events in detail


The first-ever national FBU wreath-laying at the Firefighters Memorial, St Paul’s: This will certainly be the widest UK-wide representative FRS wreath-laying ceremony and the biggest ever seen at the Firefighters Memorial. Delegations from every fire and rescue service in the UK will attend. Please feel free to come along to observe what will be a powerful commemoration of our sisters and brothers who made the ultimate sacrifice.


FBU centenary procession with banners across the Millennium Bridge to Southwark Cathedral: With St Paul’s as the backdrop and in the shadows of many of London’s landmarks.


Commemorative and Celebratory Service, Southwark Cathedral: Attendance at this event, due to seating capacity is unfortunately limited to guests who have received a formal invitation. The event will however be live streamed with assistance from the Daily Mirror. FBU members who are able to be in London can come together to watch the live streaming in the comfort of The Folly, Gracechurch Street, EC3.


Centenary reception and celebration at The Folly, Gracechurch Street: This will include guest speakers, comedy and live music. It will be a chance to chat to colleagues and relax while reflecting on the achievements of the past 100 years. 

Reaching our centenary is a fantastic achievement. We look to the past in order to improve things for the future. Please take the chance on October 13 to spend some time joining us in celebrating and remembering those who went before us.

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