Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include Edward VII.

Friday, May 9, 2014

OBAN - 1973

Photos: and
On July 24, 1973, a hotel fire on the Scotish seafront claimed 10 lives.

It was Scotland's deadliest hotel fire since the end of World War II and led to reforms in U.K. safety regulations.

In the House of Commons, Gordon Campbell, secretary of state for Scotland, told the chamber:

"Just after four o'clock this morning a fire call was received from the police about a fire at the Esplanade Hotel, Oban"

"The fire station at Oban turned out two fire engines immediately and at the same time summoned assistance which was provided from Lochgilphead and Inveraray.

"When the Oban fire engines arrived at the hotel they saw flames coming from the upper floors and in the roof."

Oban's part-time fire crew raised ladders to rescue guests perched on ledges and one ladder snapped in the heat.

The hotel wasn't up to safety standards.

Hotel Owner Ian Nicholson told the Daily Record:

"I knew it was a fire risk. I only wish I could turn the clock back. I had been told to carry out extensive modifications, but I postponed them because of costs."

Thursday, May 8, 2014


The Lockerbie Disaster struck on Dec. 21, 1988, when a bomb exploded aboard Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland.

The crash killed 243 passengers and 16 crew.
Large sections of the the Boeing 747 jumbo jet aircraft rained onto  the village of Lockerbie, killing 11 people on the ground and setting numerous fires.

The flight was to proceed from Frankfurt to Detroit by way of London and New York.

The following is a report of the fire brigade response, based primarily on information from

1900: Residents of Lockerbie report sound of loud thunder, see fiery debris falling from sky.

1903: First report of aircraft crash radioed by police patrol in Lockerbie to Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary.

1904: Call from a member of the public to Dumfries and Galloway Fire Brigades control room reporting “huge boiler explosion” at West Acres in Lockerbie. Further calls from police and members of public reporting aircraft down. Assistant Divisional Officer visiting relatives in vicinity of Lockerbie confirms an aircraft had crashed. The ADO proceeded to the crash site.

1907: Fire brigade mobilized.

1910: Fire crews arrived at scene. Upon arrival, ADO sent priority message “Make Pumps 4” and requested ambulances to the scene.

ABOUT 1915: ADO relieved by supervising officer who ordered  “Make Pumps 10" and requested activation of "Major Incident Plan." After further assessment, the officer ordered "Make Pumps 15." Informative message followed: “A large number of houses alight; water supply interrupted; surrounding area evacuated; incident control unit in attendance and set up at Sherwood Crescent; main fuselage has landed in the Rosebank area to which crews are being despatched.”
ABOUT 1940: Ambulances started transporting injured townspeople to hospital. Shelter opened at town hall.
2008: Divisional commander arrived on scene. Ordered search of all houses, ensured crews stopped fires from spreading.

ABOUT 2200: Firemaster arrived on scene.

2209: Firemaster ordered “Make Pumps 20.” Sent informative message: “A series of fires over area of Lockerbie town centre extending to 1 ½ miles by ½ mile wide; 40 mainly single story domestic properties completely destroyed or damaged to various degrees by fire and/or impact. The main concentration of the fire in area southwest of Lockerbie in Sherwood Park and Crescent Extensive number of casualties and fires reported in area east of Lockerbie in Park Place and Rosebank Crescent. Fires and casualties being attended to by joint emergency services. Reports received at incident control unit of further fire and casualties at Tundergarth, four miles east of Lockerbie, appliances now in attendance. Water and electricity supplies have been interrupted in Lockerbie town centre. Water is being relayed over varying distances. Reinforcing appliances should report to the incident control unit situated adjacent to Lockerbie police station.”

0222: Last of the major fires extinguished.

0336: Appliances from neighboring brigades along with their senior officers were released from incident.

1412: Stop message sent: “Stop for major incident Lockerbie; all seats of fire now extinguished; crews will be deployed to any individual premises in the event of any re-ignition as a result of removal of debris and may further be deployed in damping down and turning over operations. It is anticipated that the brigade be stood down at 18.00 hours today and attendance be resumed at 08.00 hours tomorrow."

RESOURCES: 188 fire service personnel; 20 pumps, including 13 from Dumfries & Galloway, 4 from Cumbria, 2 from Lothian & Borders and 1 from Strathclyde; 1 turntable ladder; 2 incident control units; 2 emergency tenders; 1 breathing apparatus support unit; 3 military pumps with RAF crash/rescue tender; milk tenders pressed into service for emergency water relay.


Photo: The Glasgow Story

On Jan. 7, 1898, four Glasgow firemen - John Battersby, James Hastie, Charles Orr and David Smith - died in an explosion and collapse at W&R Hatrick & Co., wholesale and export druggists, on Renfield Street.

The fire was reported at 2:50 a.m.

According to The Glasgow Story website:

"Captain William Paterson was on the scene quickly with the Northern and Central Divisions of the city's fire service, and the blaze was brought under control.

"At about 4.20am however, as the last firemen were dampening the wreckage, there was a large explosion which was believed to have resulted from the ignition of chemicals stored on the site.

"Four firemen were killed in the blast and two others taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary with serious injuries."


Photo: The Glasgow Story

On Sept. 28, 1953, disaster was averted at Stobcross Quay, Finnieston.

Firefighters saved the tanker Alva Bay, which was moored at the quay and carried 1,500 tons of fuel oil.

The blaze, which broke out in the storage sheds and smoldered for days, "took hold among rolls of newspapers," according to The Glasgow Story website.

"Exploding gas canisters added to the dangers facing firefighters.

"At one stage the river fire boat came up under the stern of the tanker in order to bring additional hoses to play on the flames."

Sunday, May 4, 2014


They provided a vital service for more than a century.

The Glasgow Salvage Corps was organized Nov. 22, 1873 by the Glasgow Rate and Salvage Association and disbanded April 1, 1984 along with salvage corps in London and Liverpool, all of which were funded by insurance companies.
The transition of ocean shipping to container vessels from bulk carriers played a role in the decision to disband the salvage corps in the three port cities, as did construction of industrial estates away from the docklands.
The original Glasgow Salvage Corps station was on Nicholas Street. It relocated to 203-213 Albion Street in the late 19th Century and moved to 90 Maitland Street on June 22, 1972.
On March 28, 1960, a blaze on Glasgow's Cheapside Street killed 19 firemen - including five members of the salvage corps - in the greatest loss of life in the U.K. fire service since World War II.
The photo of the Cheapside Street memorial is from Graeme Kirkwood's history of the Scottish fire service.


   Glasgow Fire Brigade Crossing the Albert Bridge