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Auxillary Fire Service

The Auxiliary Fire service (AFS) was established under the Air Raids Precautions Act 1937, which received Royal Assent 22 December 1937, and it became law 1st Jan 1938.

The Auxiliary Fire Service was formed from volunteers at the outbreak of war, to assist the regular fire brigades at local level. In this job it was hampered severely by the incompatibility of equipment used by these different brigades — most importantly the lack of a standard size of hydrant valve. Fire was a huge threat to the British people, emergency firewater tanks were installed in many towns and where a large water supply such as a river was available pipes were laid to provide water for fire fighting.

Initially many wrongly saw firemen as dodging the forces, but when the bombing began their value was realised. The Auxiliary Fire Service and the local brigades were superseded in August 1941 by the National Fire Service. Many of the ranks were made up of women, in March 1943 there were 32,200 women serving with the National Fire Service. For the un-paid, part time fire fighters, men were on duty every fourth night and women every sixth night, but could be called up for whole-time paid service if necessary.

An AFS was formed in every county borough, borough and urban district, and there was also one in the London County Council area. Each AFS was commanded by a Commandant, with Deputy and/or Assistant Commandants in the larger services. The services operated their own fire stations, each commanded by a Section Officer, and station areas were divided into Fire Beats, each under the command of a Patrol Officer. These ranks were not laid down by the government, and some services used different systems.

The name was changed to The National Fire Service in August 1941 when the regional regular Fire Brigades and the AFS were merged. After the war the AFS was reformed alongside the Civil Defence Corps, forming part of the UK's planned emergency response to a nuclear attack. It was disbanded in the UK in 1968.

Amblecote Urban District Council   Auxiliary Fire Service   1940

Top row standing (left to right):- G. Banks, C.H. Guest, A.V. Scott, A. Rowley, B. Cole, S.R. Edwards, N.F. Bird, T.N. Wood,
G.G.B. Banks, J.H. Footman, L.W. Bradley.

Second row standing:- M. Taylor, P. Smith, R. Jenkins, A. Walker, F.E. Ellis, W. Lewis, J.T. Chalengsworth, G.A. Bill, G.E. Griffin,
S.T. Bennett.

Bottom row sitting:- G. Millward (Leading Fireman), G. Rowberry (Leading Fireman), A. Stephens (Deputy Chief Officer, Brierley Hill Brigade Instructor), W.D. Brooks (Patrol Officer), M.E. Roberts (Commandant), H.T. Guest (Patrol Officer),
T.W. Robinson (Leading Fireman), R.T. Matthews (Leading Fireman), A.E. Bull.

Sitting on Floor:- R. de V. Postings (Messenger), D.H. Simpson (Messenger).