Fire stations of the world: Guernsey Fire and Rescue marks 100 years of service, UK
The Guernsey Fire and Rescue Service has marked its 100 year anniversary. The States of Guernsey made its formal foundation of the service on 1 July 1922, taking control of a fire brigade from its capital St Peter port. To celebrate, the service plan to host numerous events throughout the year, including an open day at the town arsenal fire station on 3 September 2022. Chief fire officer Jon Le Page said the organisation had "only grown" since it began 100 years ago.
He said, "100 years ago, Guernsey's fire service had one vehicle and operated out of a small fire station on Upland road.”
"In 1935, the team moved its base to the town arsenal, where we have now been for more than 80 years, to accommodate its second vehicle. As an organisation, we have only grown since then, evolving to meet the island's needs and to ensure we are always ready to help in the case of an emergency."
Prior to 1907 the various Insurance Companies who insured property within the Island provided the only organised fire cover in Guernsey. There were three Brigades within St Peter Port and their purpose was to reduce the liability of the insurers in the event of fire. By 1907 the Parish Authorities of St Peter Port had assumed responsibility for the Fire Brigade, which was housed at on the outskirts of the Town and manned by volunteers. When called upon the Brigade would charge for its services. This arrangement continued until 1922, when the States of Guernsey assumed control.
In 1935 the Brigade moved to the Town Arsenal site and has remained there ever since. Soon after, in 1938, the first full-time member was appointed to the Brigade, with his brief being to organise the training of Brigade members, administration and the maintenance of the fire hydrants located throughout the Island, (duties which remain very relevant today).
On 1 April 2005, the Guernsey Fire Brigade became the Guernsey Fire and Rescue Service in recognition of the broader role now carried out in the community and also in line with other British Fire and Rescue Services.
The modern Fire and Rescue Service in Guernsey embraces all aspects of fire fighting and fire prevention. Guernsey, however, cannot benefit from any early assistance from a neighbouring service and therefore has to be self-sufficient.
The Service has a significant role to play in the area of fire safety. If possible it is much better to prevent a fire from occurring and therefore save people from distress and perhaps injury or worse. To this end, the Fire Safety Department seeks to advise about the reasonable safety measures that should be adopted by property owners so as to safeguard people using particular buildings. The Fire Services (Guernsey) Law 1989 adds the force of law to this effort.
The Service resources are centred on one Whole-time Station on Guernsey and a Retained Station on Herm.
The chief fire officer is supported by an area manager who acts as the head of Fire Safety and a group manager who acts as the head of Operations and Training. They in turn receive management support from four station officers who each have a specific focus on Operations, Training and Fire Safety, in addition to a tactical operational command role.
There are 55 whole-time and 10 retained (part-time) operational staff employed by the Service. Additionally there are two civilian staff positions providing support services.
The head of Fire Safety oversees the Service's Fire Safety Department, which consists of a fire safety manager, a fire safety officer and a community fire safety officer who work normal office hours.
To provide 24hr emergency cover in Guernsey there are four operational shifts (known as 'Watches'), each consisting of 12 personnel. Each watch has a watch commander in charge, two crew commanders, and nine fire fighters. These watches operate a rotating duty system of 10-hour day shifts and 14-hour night shifts in order to maintain the necessary cover. In addition, off-duty fire fighters carry radio-pagers to provide backup crews when required. The retained staff in Herm all work and live on the Island and therefore have a rapid initial response to incidents before support crews from Guernsey arrive.
Chief Le Page said he looked forward to the future celebrations to bring the service and islanders together. "I hope much of our local community will be able to get involved in our anniversary celebrations, not only to look back at what we have achieved as an organisation but also to look forward at what we will continue to do for many years to come," he said.
Sources: Guernsey Fire and Rescue Service, BBC