Website of the Laceby History Group

Laceby Fire Brigade 1939 to 1945 by Mr E Lingard

In 1939 the government of the day decided to prepare for the worst and started recruiting people on a part-time basis for Civil Defence.

This was to be organised by local councils - in our case Grimsby R.D.C. The first meeting was held in the Temperance Hall and was attended by R.D.C. members and officials who explained their position and what the procedures would be. Their duty was to provide fire cover for the whole of their district. The people enrolled would be known as the A.F.S. (Auxiliary Fire Service) and would serve under Officers appointed by the R.D.C.

The next meeting called was for the volunteers to be examined by a doctor. A member of Grimsby Borough Fire Brigade was then asked to come and give a talk and later to come as instructor and trainer.

After this, equipment and transport had to be found. The transport was found in the village at the garage down Grimsby Road. The boss bought a few lorries from Clover Dairies. Ours was a 30 cwt. Morris and caused us very little trouble in two years of rough usage at times.

The next thing was finding a place to put it. We got premises in the big black shed in College Farmyard. It had to be cleared out by us and the rat holes blocked up to make it as comfortable as possible because even at that stage it was thought some of us would be sleeping there eventually.

We erected a very big telegraph pole on which to hang wet hoses. By the time that was done some gear had arrived - tin hats, boiler suits, belts and axes, wellington boots and service respirators.

A Coventry Climax Pump was issued to us - very handy. It could be taken off the chassis and taken into a building.

Now we were ready for service training under Sergeant McKayThe first training ground was in Guy Holme a field down Grimsby Road. After some sessions we went on an inspection of all the hydrants in the district. They were in a bad state. Afterwards they had to be inspected at regular intervals.

The next event was a visit to Mr. Tickler's farm at Bradley which in an air raid was to be a priority spot for us. The yard there was nearly full of fruit juice for jam making.

Men who had volunteered to be Fire Watchers were supplied with stirrup pumps and a load of sand as well as chemical extinguishers. These all had to be inspected regularly.

After about 3 months Sergeant McKay had to return full timto his own Job and the council had to find its own Officers. The first one was Mr. Griffin, a retired Police Inspector. He was lame and was not able to continue for long. Mr. Bernard Dixon foll owed him then came Mr. Fred Pettifer, then Mr. Fenwick of Brigsley and he stayed until we became part of the National Fire Service. He was a good Officer. He had a habit of giving you a call out in the middle of the night just to put you on your toes, but most of the chaps were working all day and had family responsibilities, so being out at night too was not a good thing. The only mistake he sometimes made was to say where he was heading next, so we gave them a ring to warn them.

Apart from fires people used the Fire Service to pump out their cellars in the case of flooding. At The Oaklands when Alderman Hewson was there water supply was pumped from a well in the grounds. Water was pumped up to the Hall by a paraffin engine which had been in use many years and had begun to break down. The pipe was thirty or forty yards from the Hall and went up into a big tank over the archway. From there it fed the Hall and gardens.

We took the pump off the chassis and carried it down to the well and ran the hose out til we got to the tank. We had to go into one of the cottages and up the stairs and it worked very well. Mr. Hewson gave orders for everything that could hold water to be filled up so they would always have some ready. He also wanted a more powerful pump. After all this we were invited to stay for a meal.

Among other things we were expected to take Church Parade at different churches. There would be a notable person to take the salute. Also we did displays at summer events. The autumn was a difficult time to do displays because many men were employed in the harvest fields.

After two winters in the old black shed in Butt Lane, it was decided to move us. We had approached Mr. Harry Barr across the road for one of his buildings which was in good order. Eventually he agreed we could move in.

For the next three years we worked a rota with 12 men, 4 men to a cre, one night on call and one off.

As time went on we lost some men to the armed forces. These were replaced by men who had done some training with us, but lived in other villages. In spite of difficulties we had at times there was always a helping hand and I am glad to have been associated with such a grand lot of men.

I have not said anything in this account about the fires. These did happen but Laceby had a good record. Everything had to be recorded and I wonder where those records are now.