Southport Past (OTS News) Southport Fire Station 1862-2013

Southport Fire Station  A Brief History   1862 – 2004   By: Station Officer Phil Wakefield

In The Beginning   Quote from a newspaper report in 1845.   “on 28th September, fire broke out on the Promenade and as the town has no fire brigade, a horse man was sent to Ormskirk …… two engines arrived within one hour and forty minutes.”   As you can imagine, the house on fire, on a site now occupied by the British Legion’s Home, Byng House was destroyed.   The first efforts to form a Southport Fire Brigade took effect in 1862 when a group of volunteers banded together and a horse-drawn manual engine was bought from Halls of Oldham. Later the local police were given the responsibility and Head Constable Kershaw became superintendent of the fire brigade.   Southport Fire Brigade   In 1880 the first steamer, a horse drawn Shand Mason, was bought and named “Nile.” This tradition of naming the fire engines continues to this day at Southport, the only station in Merseyside that does. Southport’s first fire station was erected in the council yard in Tulketh Street.

Pictured above is Southport’s first steamer “Nile” outside Cambridge Hall, Lord Street.   By 1909 sub fire stations, housing hand-drawn hose and ladder carts were located at Churchtown, Blowick, Crossens, Marshside, Sefton Street and Hart Street. In 1910 Southport Station had a motorised Dennis pump with a 50-foot wheeled escape – the first of its type on Merseyside. Also in 1910, in the High Park district, telephones and fire extinguishers were installed in various police houses. These included those of Sergeant Henderson, Norwood Road; P.C. Whitehead in Athol Grove; P.C. Hamer in Sidney Road and P.C. Baldwin in Old Park Lane. When the Borough boundary was extended, in 1911, Birkdale was included.  Birkdale Fire Brigade   In 1876 volunteers formed Birkdale Fire Brigade with equipment paid for by local subscribers. Equipment was stored in a shed in Weld Road. The volunteers were summoned by means of a steam hooter at the Compton Road sewage works. In 1899 the Urban District Council took over and provided a fire station adjacent to the town hall. The UDC purchased a horse drawn steamer, the “Clissing” built by Shand Mason. This was sold to the Singleton District Council in 1915 for £90.   In 1911 Birkdale District became part of Southport County Borough and five years later the police fire brigade took over Birkdale fire cover. The volunteers were disbanded in 1919 and the Birkdale Fire Station closed.

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Birkdale firemen and their horse drawn steamer “Clissing”

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Southport Fire Station

The Fire Station, Tulketh Street   By 1919, with two motorised fire engines in use, the Birkdale, Hart Street, Churchtown, Marshside and Sefton Street facilities were closed. Ainsdale too, with its police station, hand-drawn hose cart and ladder was also taken out of service.   Fire cover was provided from the Tulketh Street station for the fire at the Opera House in 1929, where £37,000 of damage was incurred and P.C. Rigby was seriously injured. In 1932 when there was a large fire at Pleasureland, the brigade strength consisted of Deputy Superintendent C. Appleton, five full time and eight part-time constable firemen and their auxiliaries.   In 1934 a Leyland Metz 90-foot Turntable Ladder was added to the fleet

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Leyland Metz Turntable Ladder

In 1940 the Brigade moved into its new Manchester Road headquarters. An Inspector, 19 full-time fire police constables and 6 part-timers were the complement. Appliances there included two ambulances.   In 1941 following the German air raids of 1940 the National Fire Service was formed and Southport Fire Brigade became a part of the 26th Fire Force with its headquarters in Liverpool. This was disbanded in 1948 and the provision of fire services returned to local control. The re-formed Southport County Fire Brigade under Chief Fire Officer Perkins finally lost its police link.   Local government re-organisation in 1974 called for a reduction in the number of small provincial fire brigades and Southport Fire Brigade was amalgamated into the newly formed Merseyside County Fire Brigade led by Chief Fire Officer Frank Taylor. At this time the complement of staff was 53 full-time and 10 part-time staff.


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The Present in 2003

Southport Fire Station is now responsible for the fire cover for a population of more than 90,000 in an area stretching from The Plough Public House at Crossens in the north, to Woodvale traffic lights in the south a distance of approximately 12 miles as the crow flies. It is staffed 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year.

Staffing is based on a four Watch (Shift) system. Each Watch is staffed by a Station Officer, Sub Officer, 2 Leading Firefighters and 17 Firefighters. They work 2 day shifts of 9 hours and 2 night shifts of 15 hours. A total of 48 hours over an 8 day period.

In overall charge of the station is the Station Commander who works a combination of days and 24-hour cover periods.   Also based at the station is a Fire Safety Unit staffed by 3 officers, responsible for fire safety precautions in shops, factories, hotels and guesthouses, and fire safety advice.   A section of the Friends of Merseyside Fire Service is also based here. This section is staffed by unpaid volunteers, who assist the station personnel with administrative tasks generated by our Community Fire Safety initiatives. These initiatives mainly comprise the fitting of smoke alarms in domestic premises and Home Fire Risk Assessments.   Main Risks   The town centre comprises commercial, industrial and life risk with a concentration of hotels, leisure facilities and older multi-storey properties. The residential risks include pre and post war as well as modern housing, with many multi-storey properties converted for multi occupation.   There are two hospitals within the area and Southport Football Club boasts a stadium with a six thousand seat capacity. Events such as Southport Air Show and the Southport Flower Show attract between 120,000 and 270,000 visitors and Pleasureland has up to 2.6 million visitors per year.   It is estimated that of the 5 million day visitors per year, approximately 1.6 million include an overnight stay.   Meet the Fleet   Call Sign. North Seven (N71)  Dennis SS. Reg. No. M773 WKC  Name. Salvor  Name Origin. After a River Mersey firefighting boat.   This appliance has a minimum staffing level of five with a Station Officer or Sub Officer in charge. It attends all major incidents in the area and any requiring the attendance of more than one appliance.   Call Sign. North Seven Two (N72)  Dennis SS. Reg. No. H934 JKD  Name. Maurice Evans  Name Origin. After Fireman Maurice Evans.

A Southport fireman who tragically lost his life in a training accident at the station in 1956. A plaque and photographs in memory are located just inside the front door to the station.   This appliance has a minimum staffing level of four with a Leading Firefighter in charge. It attends all known small fires and alongside N71, if available.

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From left to right:N7, N73, N72, N7B, FT2.   Call Sign. North Seven Three (N73)  Dennis SS. Reg. No. L244 STJ  Name. Red Rum  Name Origin.

After the three times Grand National racehorse winner that was trained near Southport.   This appliance has a minimum staffing level of four with a Sub Officer or Leading Firefighter in charge. It provides cover for Southport if N71 and N72 are busy and accompanies N71 if N72 is busy. It also provides initial cover to nearby incidents in Lancashire.   Call Sign. North Seven Bravo (N7B)  Volvo. Reg. No. R585 DFM  Name. Salamander  Name Origin. After a River Mersey firefighting boat.   This appliance is a Combined Platform Ladder (CPL). It has a crew of two and is used for firefighting or rescue at high level. Although based at Southport it can be called to incidents anywhere within Merseyside.   Also included in the photograph above is a Ford Ranger, call sign, Foxtrot Tango Two (FT2). This appliance has no official staffing level but can be used by fire crews when a four-wheel drive capability is required. It carries a built in water tank and fire fogging system for firefighting purposes. The crew cab is large enough for four persons.

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In 2005 Anthony McGuirk to receive Queen’s Fire Service Medal

Merseyside’s chief fire officer Anthony McGuirk receives the Queen’s Fire Service Medal in the New Year Honours. Merseyside chief fire officer pledged to improve relations between the service and the Fire Brigades Union in June 2002 when he took over the post from Malcolm Saunders. Mr McGuirk, 42, from Formby, said in 2002: “I’m looking to create a more positive and mature relationship with the union. Pictured below is Merseyside Chief Fire Officer Mr Tony McGuirk when he visited Southport Community Fire Station. “There will be occasions when we disagree, but it’s the way in which we can disagree about some issues but continue working together on others that I want to achieve. “That relationship hasn’t been in place for some time for a number of reasons and I’m keen to re-establish it. Hopefully, so are the FBU.”

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In June 2012 Southport Fire Station was demolished to make way for a Communite Fire & Ambulance station.

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Work was completed in June 2013.

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