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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): LCC/FB/GEN

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1822-1965

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 8.55 linear metres

Name of creator(s): LCC | London County Council x London County Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Council, on its creation in 1889, assumed responsibility for the Metropolitan Fire Brigade maintained by its predecessor, the Metropolitan Board of Works. On 15 August 1904 the name of the brigade was changed to the London Fire Brigade by virtue of Section 46 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1904.

As part of the Second World War emergency organisation, a Regional Fire Officer with a small staff was appointed to co-ordinate the work of fire brigades in the Greater London area. From 18 August 1941 to 31 March 1948, under emergency legislation, the Brigade and the wartime London Auxiliary Fire Service, in common with the brigades of other local authorities, were merged into a National Fire Service under the direction of the Home Office. The Council resumed control of the Brigade from 1 April 1948.

1833: London Fire Engine Establishment began to operate, being a union of brigades formerly run by individual insurance companies.
1836: Society for the Protection of Life from Fire set up, a voluntary society maintaining and manning fire escapes at a number of stations throughout London.
1865: Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act placing responsibility for extinguishing fires and protecting life and property upon MBW. Thus on 1 Jan 1866 Metropolitan Fire Brigade came into existence, commanded by Captain Eyre Massey Shaw (the new brigade was combination of two bodies described above)
1866: London Salvage Corps established by leading insurance companies to protect property rather than life at metropolitan conflagrations.
1889: LCC take over Metropolitan Fire Brigade
1904: Name changed to London Fire Brigade.
1938: Threat of war leads to formation of Auxiliary Fire Service to augment existing brigade; equipment and finance provided by Home Office, training and day to day management closely supervised by London Fire Brigade.
1941: National Fire Service created to unify fire services of entire country; London became one of 11 regions of this Service, the London Fire Brigade and Auxiliary Fire Service being superseded.
1947: Fire Services Act - responsibility for fire brigades placed upon County Councils and County Boroughs nationally.
1948 1 April: London Fire Brigade resumed operations.
1948 1 April: Middlesex County Fire Service came into operation. Before war fire services in county of Middlesex were responsibility of Urban District and Borough authorities, and at an earlier date parish vestries occasionally provided fire engines for local fires.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the London County Council Fire Brigade Department, 1822-1965, including subject and policy files on general topics including correspondence on question whether horses can smell fire and locate scene of outbreaks; participation by Brigade in International Horse Shows; surprise inspections of stations by the Chief Officer; passing of information on fires to firms of fire assessors; the funerals of Sir Eyre Massey Shaw and Sir Lionel Wells; drills and competitions; Women's Fire Protection Force; emergency arrangements during the 1926 General Strike; pamphlet on National Fire Brigades Association; International Fire Exhibition, Paris; mutual arrangements between brigades for extinguishing fires; London Fire Brigade Questions and Answers Book; liaison with press; displays and demonstrations at exhibitions and events; London Fire Brigade Museum; reorganisation of the Brigade (1934); visits by officers to foreign fire brigades; the Royal Commission on Fire Brigades and Fire Prevention; Departmental Committee on Fire Brigade Services (Riverdale Committee); Fire Brigades Act, 1938; insurance companies' contributions towards the cost of the Brigade; Central Advisory Council for Fire Services; press cuttings; transfer of Fire Services from National Fire Service to local authorities after Second World War.

Subject and policy files regarding fires and special services, including papers on: fires aboard ships; fires on tramcars; fires in dance halls, factories, workshops, warehouses, Government and LCC buildings, hospitals, nursing homes, massage establishments, chimneys, hotels, clubs, lodging houses, restaurants, fried fish shops, places of public entertainment, houses, flats, tenements, schools, colleges, churches, church halls, University buildings, wharves, docks, gasworks, gas mains, departmental stores, shops and retail markets; fires involving explosives; static electricity as a cause of fire; reports on serious fires; legal right of Brigade to enter premises on fire; Society for the Protection of Life from Fire; special services including gas escapes, lift accidents, railway accidents and pumping operations during flooding; fires of doubtful origin or caused by arson and incendiaries; City fire inquests; lives lost at fires; electrical hazards at fires; organisation at large fires; oil fires; fires and panics; special reports on individual fires; fires involving celluloid; reports on fires by fire prevention officers; register of fires and other incidents attended by the Brigade Control Unit.

Subject and policy files regarding appliances and equipment including land steamers, horses and stabling, motor vehicles, motor pumps, Merryweather's pumps, escape vans and turntable ladders, electrical turntable ladders, foam tender, fireboats "Alpha", "Beta", "Gamma", "Massey Shaw" and "Raidwood", smoke helmets, respirators and breathing apparatus, chemical fire extinguishers, fire escapes, asbestos protective equipment, air foam. Also Stores Ledgers and registers of accidents to vehicles and appliances.

Subject and policy files relating to communications including street fire alarms, fire alarm telegraph systems, fire telephones, malicious false alarms, automatic fire alarms, radiotelephony, messages, Watch-room and Control Room procedures, teleprinters, radio installations, list of automatic fire alarms and fire telephones connected to each station.

Subject and policy files relating to fire prevention, including tests of fireproof flooring; inspection of public, government and Council buildings; fire precautions at various buildings including hospitals; petroleum storage; petrol fires on barges; celluloid risks; explosives; electric high voltage and neon signs; household fire protection rules; revised fire drill rules for schools; automatic sprinkler installation; foam installations to deal with petrol and oil fires; automatic drencher installations; means of escape in case of fire; Advisory Committee on the Amendment of the London Building Act, 1930; fire prevention arrangements on ships and Tube railways; Fire Prevention (Business Premises) Order, 1941.

Subject and policy files relating to water supplies including liaison with Metropolitan Water Board in cases of water shortage at fires; hydrants and hydrant tablets; maps showing locations of hydrants; hydrant registers. Subject and policy files relating to Fire Brigade buildings, particularly London Fire Brigade Headquarters at Albert Embankment.

Original fire reports, containing detailed reports concerning individual calls to fires, including false alarms, including: address of fire, occupiers of premises, business or trade carried on, where fire started, particulars of fire, times of calls, method of extinguishing fire, fire appliances in attendance and fire station called. Also daily return of fire calls, compiled under section 31 of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act, 1865, which required the Fire Brigade to supply each fire insurance company with a daily return of fires occurring in the Metropolis. The information generally duplicates that of the fire reports.

General reports and publications, including Memoir of James Braidwood; pamphlets and order of proceedings; handbooks; lectures; reports; articles; guidebooks; memoranda, orders and instructions; order books, statistics and log books. Also photographs.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

LCC/FB/GEN/01: General; LCC/FB/GEN/02: Fires and special services; LCC/FB/GEN/03: Appliances and equipment; LCC/FB/GEN/04: Communications; LCC/FB/GEN/05: Fire prevention; LCC/FB/GEN/06: Water supplies; LCC/FB/GEN/07: Accommodation; LCC/FB/GEN/08: Fire reports; LCC/FB/GEN/09: Daily returns; LCC/FB/GEN/10: Reports; LCC/FB/GEN/11: Miscellaneous.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Physical characteristics:

Generally fit. Fire Reports 1889-1937 are in heavy volumes that require 2 people to lift, please make an advance appointment if you wish to view these items.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired with the records of its parent body, the London County Council.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

For records of the London Fire Brigade Widows and Orphans Fund 1906-1980 see ref ACC/730, for the London Fire Engine Establishment see ref LFE. For the Metropolitan Fire Brigade 1866-1889 see records of the Metropolitan Board of Works (ref MBW). For Middlesex County Fire Service 1948-1965 see Middlesex County Council (ref MCC).

For the Auxiliary Fire Service 1938-1941 and National Fire Service 1941-1948 see also records at the National Archives.

Publication note:

For detailed accounts of the history of the London Fire Brigade, see: London's Fire Brigades - W. Eric Jackson (Longman's 1966) and A History of the British Fire Service - G. V Blackstone (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957). For further information on the history of the LCC please see Achievement: A Short History of the London County Council by W Eric Jackson (1965), LMA Library reference 18.0 1965, The London County Council 1938, LMA Library reference 18.7 SER 4, and The Youngest County: A description of London as a county and its public services, 1951, LMA Library reference 18.0 1951.



Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: April to June 2009

Arson | Crime
Fire damage | Damage | Disasters
Fire engines | Emergency vehicles | Vehicles | Transport
Fire fighters | Emergency services personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Fire insurance | Insurance | Finance
Fire prevention | Safety measures | Safety
Fire safety | Safety
Fire services | Emergency services
Fire stations | Public buildings | Buildings | Architecture
Fires | Accidents | Disasters
General Strike (1926) | Protest movements | Political movements
Warning devices | Safety devices
Water supply | Water resources management

Personal names
Braidwood | James | 1800-1861 | fire officer
Shaw | Sir | Eyre Massey | 1828-1908 | fire officer
Wells | Sir | Lionel de Lautour | 1859-1929 | fire officer

Corporate names
Fire Brigade Department | London County Council
LCC | London County Council x London County Council
London Fire Engine Establishment x Metropolitan Fire Brigade x London Fire Brigade
Society for the Protection of Life from Fire x Metropolitan Fire Brigade

London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe