This year marks the 75th anniversary of the National Fire Service handing control of fire brigades back to local authorities as the UK recovered from World War II.
Although our history as a Service is complicated by boundary changes and Chester and Warrington having their own brigades until the 1970s, this year we are celebrating the platinum anniversary of our local fire and rescue service saving and protecting lives in Cheshire.
Throughout our 75 years serving Cheshire we have had, to date, nine Chief Fire Officers who have led us through many challenging times and incidents. Here are the recollections of some of our Chiefs.
In 1947 members of the National Fire Service were transferred to Fire Brigades, the start of the formation of what was to become the Cheshire County Fire Brigade Department. Chief Officer Adam Boulton was appointed in September 1947 and, after six and half years of nationalisation, Cheshire County Fire Brigade was formed on 1 April 1948. In its first year the Brigade responded to 1505 calls including serious mill, ships, oil refineries and forest fires.
It was in the 1970s that Widnes (formerly in Lancashire), Warrington County Borough and Chester City Fire Brigades joined the renamed Cheshire Fire Brigade. In the 1990s we bid farewell to our HQ in Chester, moving to the current site in Winsford and we were renamed Cheshire Fire Service, then on 1 October 2004 the Fire and Rescue Services Act came into force meaning we became Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service to reflect operational activity.
We are very proud of our vintage fire engine heritage collection. These are lovingly cared for by a group of our volunteers who accompany them to shows in Cheshire.
They can also be seen at Service events where they are a proud reminder of our heritage.
1 April 1948 - Cheshire County Fire Brigade was formed
Early 1970s - we worked with ICI to develop the Hazchem identification system for chemicals in transit.
1974 - The majority of Fire Brigades in England and Wales, including Cheshire, became known as Fire Services.
March 1993 – two IRA devices exploded in Warrington town centre.
March 2009 – we carried out 60,000 Home Safety Assessments in 12 months.
October 2012 - What is believed to be the longest fire in the history of the Service broke out at a recycling plant in Widnes. It burned for four weeks with firefighters on site throughout.
July 2015 – Bosley Wood Flour Mill explosion resulting in the loss of four lives. Our most challenging incident to date.
October 2021 - Our new state-of-the-art training centre was officially opened by HRH The Earl of Wessex.
On Thursday 2 November 2023, at 11:00, there was a Red Plaque ceremony to honour Fireman Cyril George Dutton who lost his life in the line of duty on 29 November 1940.
Cyril George Dutton was born in Chester on 26 February 1915. He joined the ranks of the newly-formed Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) in 1939 until he was called up for military service in the Royal Army Service Corps. Attaining the rank of Lance Corporal, Cyril was seconded to the AFS as a full-time auxiliary fireman, a secondment for just one month (1-30 November 1940).
On the evening of 28 November, a night when 21 high explosive bombs, two parachute mines and 168 incendiaries were dropped on Chester, and although Cyril was rostered to be off-duty, he went to ‘see what the lads have got’. He ran to the fire station and donned his kit before running to an incident off Foregate Street, where the Commercial Hall was seriously involved in fire. At around 23:30 there was a serious collapse of masonry and Cyril, along with Fm John William Haynes, was seriously injured. Both were taken to Chester Royal Infirmary and, while Fm Haynes survived, Cyril’s injuries were later to prove fatal.
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We would love to hear from you about your memories of our Service, whether you are a serving or retired member of staff, someone who may have had occasion to use our services or would like to share any recollections you may have.
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