October 19, 2008
Memories of the Fire Boat Service
Recently tidying up my computer picture files I came across the photograph below of the very last wartime fire boat retained in active service. Sadly, she was withdrawn from service in 1996, after a career spanning some 55 years. This class of wartime emergency fire boat, officially known as the Estuarial Class carried four Sigmund Heavy Pumps powered by Fordson V8 petrol engines and were propelled by a pair of Fordson V8's driving the shafts. The Cissie Brock served the Devon Fire and Rescue Service in the Plymouth area for most of her career.
Cissie Brock noses alongside in Plymouth toward the end of her career.
Built of Baltic pine and modelled on a design for a fast tender for the RN, these boats were good sea keepers and many were sold into service after the war as fishing boats. Others found employment as houseboats and motor yachts, several are still afloat dotted around the country. Cissie Brock herself is now, so I'm told, serving as a floating home for some lucky buyer down in Cornwall. The whole of the forward cabin area was given over to the pumps and their engines in the original configuration with the Wheelhouse over the small propulsion compartment and the crew space right aft provided a small galley and benches around a table.
Taken in the early 1950's this picture shows one of the Estuarials laid up for disposal.
Several of these boats ended up on the Rhine as a Column of the National Fire Service was sent with the British Forces into occupied territory, ostensibly to protect the Army's assets. The reality was that they ended up fighting a wide range of fires, some of them the result of military action. The boats seem to have remained in Germany after the Occupation was terminated, and all trace of them seems to have vanished.
Posted by The Gray Monk at October 19, 2008 02:34 PM
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