AFS WESTERN ZONE

 

 

Scotland was divided into three zones:-

The North Zone consisted of Highland & Islands, Grampian and Tayside Fire Brigades.

The East Zone consisted of Lothian & Borders, Fife and east half of Central Scotland Fire Brigades.

The West Zone consisted of Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway and west half of Central Scotland Fire Brigades.

 

The Auxiliary Fire Service, albeit in the guise of the combined “National Fire Service”, was disbanded in 1948 after its sterling wartime contribution as it was no longer required, but due to the mounting pressures of the Cold War the AFS was reformed under the Civil Defence Act, 1948 and recruitment and training was started on the 15th November 1949 at which point Fireman Flynn of Greenock re-enlisted having already served throughout World War II. Jimmy Berry had been the Leading Fireman in Greenock Retained when he worked as an engineer with Hasties Stearing Gear, he became a school teacher and couldn’t turn out for fires so he was persuaded to join the AFS.

The training in those early days after reforming was rather sparse as roles were unclear, with the result that the lads turned up on training nights but did not accomplish much. A case of nobody knew quite what to do with these extra men although on occasions enough turned up to form a crew and so it went on until 1964 by which time the numbers attending were few and far between although numbers were listed in the annual report each year.

In December 1964 Station Officer Leonard Wilkins transferred from Greenock to WAFB HQ in Johnstone to become Civil Defence Liaison Officer, OIC AFS, OIC Control, Thornhill.

From that point on things changed for the better.

The AFS met once a week for training which consisted of drills and/or lectures. They also had to attend various exercises. For this they got a payment of £10 per year plus travelling expenses.

On joining each man was given a boiler suit, a pair of rubber boots, belt and axe, cap and badge, and a tin helmet.

Once they passed their training they received a tunic and trousers, pair of leggings and a personnel line.

 

The Greenock crew normally went up to Renfrew for their Wednesday night training as there wasn’t enough at each station to do drills on there own.

 

Greenock

There was a Green Goddess kept in bay 5 of the fire station in Rue End Street and a motor cycle in the garage along with a Land Rover which as well as being a Personnel Carrier was used to tow the Field Telephone Trailer that was also kept at Greenock. This Land Rover was on occasion used by the Liaison Officer when not using his allocated Austin Countryman Personnel Carrier. Also in the garage at Greenock were part of the stock of 6” polythene pipes for water relays and these would be moved by the Western Area Fire Brigade’s lorry VHS738 which was Johnstone’s “van”.

The remainder being stored at Renfrew.

At the Firemaster’s Parade and Drill *** on the 27th March 1968 the B division crew consisted of:-

 

Sub Officer Jimmy Berry G M **       (Back up Driver)                   *

Fireman Addison

Fireman Blyth

Fireman Jimmy Flynn                                           *

Fireman Graham Todd

Fireman Wilson

 

* Were in the AFS during the war and served at the Greenock and Clydebank blitz.

** George Medal awarded as a result of actions during Greenock Blitz. (distillery blaze in Baker Street).Three George Medals were awarded that night, the other two recipients being Firemaster A. S. Pratten and Sub-Station Officer William Neill.

*** Final Parade prior to disbandment on 31 March 1968 as a result of Dennis Healey’s defence cuts.

 

 

Renfrew

The A division unit were based at Renfrew Fire Station at Sandyford in Paisley and moved to Renfrew Fire Station in Paisley Road when it opened.

When the unit was based at the Renfrew station at Sandyford, the Green Godess was kept at Darnley and brought to Sandyford for training each Wednesday night.

The Renfrew crew had a Green Goddess. Renfrew had no retained unit so the AFS fitted in there and took part in monthly combined drill with Barrhead, Johnstone and Paisley retained units.

At the Firemaster’s Parade and Drill *** on the 27th March 1968 the A division crew consisted of:-

 

Leading Fireman Alistair Stevenson (Driver) Paisley

Fireman Arthur McGeown (Driver)                                   Renfrew

Fireman Bobby Wenn                                                         Johnstone

Fireman William McLeish                                                   Paisley

Fireman Arthur Wilkins                                                      Johnstone

Fireman Ronald Glen                                                           Paisley

Fireman Jack Cassidy                                                          Johnstone

Fireman Jack Colvin                                                              Johnstone

Fireman Martin

 

*** Final Parade prior to disbandment on 31 March 1968 as a result of Dennis Healey’s defence cuts.

 

Rothesay

On the 24th June 1967 the Rothesay crew manned the Greenock Green Goddess for an exercise at a quarry outside Kilsyth and their crew was:-

Leading Fireman Urquhart

Fireman McFie (became retained Station Officer at Rothesay, awarded BEM in 1990 and retired in 2002)

Fireman Galbraith

Fireman Reid

Fireman Ross

There was no mention in the log of what equipment the Rothesay crew had.

Rothesay were eventually issued with a Green Goddess, which was a boon to the island as a third pump.

Appliances

 

NYV389*               Bedford Green Goddess 4x2    **                                                      Renfrew

NYV391*               Bedford Green Goddess 4x2                                                               Greenock

NYR92                   Bedford Green Goddess 4x2                                                               Rothesay

SXF159                  Austin Devon A40 Countryman Personnel Carrier                        Thornhill (CDO)

RGC596                  Land Rover Series I 88” (Field Telephone Unit)                             Greenock/Thornhill

SYM683                 Motorcycle Matchless 350 on 500 frame                                         Greenock

SYM683                 Motorcycle Matchless 350 on 500 frame                                         Paisley

SYM683                 Motorcycle Matchless 350 on 500 frame                                         Darnley

 

* Utilised regularly by WAFB Workshops as maintenance replacements.

** Retained by WAFB after AFS disbandment.

During a long period when Goddesses were “on the run” Sandyford had use of a Bikini Unit with 1 raft and 3 pumps, which they trained with at Arkleston dam>

 

(The above information was supplied by Ex AFS Fireman Arthur Wilkins and from the AFS Unit log book 1966-68. It was further supplemented by Retired Station Officer Alistair Stevenson, SWAFB and SFB)

 

The Firemaster’s Parade and Drill on the 27th March 1968 at Johnstone Fire Station   Photo

 

 

 

 

WESTERN AREA FIRE BRIGADE ANNUAL REPORTS

 

 

Recruitment to the Auxiliary Fire Service was commenced in November, 1949, and recruiting centres were set up in all wholetime and retained stations. Moreover, letters were sent to some 400 former members of the National Fire Service inviting them to rejoin the Service. The response has been very poor.

The training syllabus for Auxiliary Firemen covers 60 hours. On completion of the 60 hour course, successful volunteers will undergo an advanced course of 40 hours duration. Auxiliary Firewomen are expected to take a training course of 20 hours duration.

In an endeavour to stimulate recruitment and to maintain the interest of those who have volunteered, one class of training has been commenced. This class meets fortnightly for a period of two hours. Each Auxiliary in the class has been issued with uniform.

Emergency appliances which will be provided by the Government for the training of the Auxiliary Fire Service will be:-

2 Self Propelled Appliances

4 Large Trailer Pumps

4 Light Trailer Pumps

In view of the poor response of volunteers and the lack of accommodations it has been decided not to accept delivery of these appliances meantime.

 

The strength of the Auxiliary Fire Service to date being as follows:-

Men                        Women                  Total                       Year Ending

13                              6                            19                            May 1950

17                            21                            38                            December 1951

40                            29                            69                            December 1953

40                            29                            69                            December 1955

51                            30                            81                            December 1956

60                            31                            91                            December 1957

59                            31                            90                            December 1958

58                            31                            89                            December 1959

65                            31                            96                            December 1960

65                            30                            95                            December 1961

88                            30                            118                          December 1962

38                            10                            48                            December 1963

42                            10                            52                            December 1964

60                            10                            70                            December 1965

63                            10                            73                            December 1966

59                            11                            70                            December 1967

59                            11                            70                            At disbandment

 

1962            There is now an inducement of a bounty of £10.

1963            A Brigade Civil Defence Officer was appointed.

 

This unit of the Service was wound up and disbanded by Government decree and on March 27th 1968, the Firemaster held a final parade at Johnstone Fire Station. The personnel put on a very smart drill display and after an address by the Firemaster, a social evening followed.

(The final parade was held at the then new Johnstone Fire Station, it had been proposed that the old station would be used for operation by the AFS with two full complements (two duty nights), this idea was quashed when disbandment was mooted.

Equipment

 

1960

2 Self Propelled Pumps

1 Raft Carrier                         *

1 Pipe laying Lorry               *

3 Portable Pumps                 *

3 Motorcycles

*              On loan for training returned in 1961

 

1961 to 1962

2 Self Propelled Pumps

3 Motorcycles

 

1963 to 1966

2 Self Propelled Pumps

1 Land Rover

1 Telephone Cable Layer

1 Personnel Carrier

3 Motorcycles

 

1967 to 1968

3 Self Propelled Pumps

1 Land Rover

1 Telephone Cable Layer

1 Personnel Carrier

3 Motorcycles

 

 

 

 

 

If you know of any mistakes in this or have any additional information please let me know.

 

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