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Rers to down and out winos with their body warming bonfires in derelict housesFires in factories tenements and warehouses and non fire emergencies such as the Moorgate Tube disaster of 1975 are graphically described while the elation of rescue the sadness of being too late to save lives and the warm camaraderie of fire crews during some of the capital’s busiest peacetime years are vividly depicte. FreighterHaving spent 8 years at Clerkenwell C27 this book is an excellent read and depicts the work of the fireman

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Call the Fire Brigade

Working as a fireman in London’s East End during the early 1970s was no easy ride In the years before workplace health and safety legislation had started to exert its grip Allan Grice had to cut his fire and rescue teeth without the advantages of a breathing apparatus for each member of his crew Back then the time tested strategy was to ‘get in’ – to crawl below the intense heat and ‘eat?. Call the Fire Brigade Fighting London s Fires by Allan Grice is a magnificent book about the London Fire Brigade in the 1970s A couple of months ago Jim GM8LFB a retired London firefighter suggested this book via Twitter I read the excerpt that he linked to and instantly it became a book I wanted to read At the time I couldn t download it because my Kindle was broken but I received a new one for Christmas and Call the Fire Brigade was my first purchase I m thankful for Jim s suggestion because this was a terrific read probably the best book I ve read since The Admirals by Walter Bourneman Allan Grice was a London firefighter in the 1970 s transferring from a rural service to the London Fire Brigade and served in London s East End Service in the East End meant seeing many fires in warehouses and tenements in some of the poorest and most down and out areas of London These areas saw some of the worst fires in some of the most dangerous conditions If this sounds familiar to US readers it may be because Call the Fire Brigade is a uite similar in nature to Dennis Smith s Report from Engine Co 82 If you ve read Smith s excellent book on his FDNY service at the busiest fire station in the United States Grice s book and experiences are similar in the type of fires and neighborhoods encountered If you enjoyed reading Report from Engine Co 82 you ll enjoy Call the Fire Brigade as wellGrice s writing is wonderful He puts you right there in the fire station and in the midst of the calls with the fire crews He really brings out the personalities of the firefighters he worked with bringing the interactions between them alive and showing how the chemistry between them helped them get the job done and stay sane in the process His writing conveyed the conditions of smoke and fire experienced by firefighters The emotions and thoughts of handling high stress and tragic incidents are described Perhaps things are a bit graphic at times but it shows the reality of what he and his fellow firefighters encountered I enjoyed how he compared and contrasted the London Fire Brigade of the World War II years to the London Fire Brigade of the 1970s and how the experiences of the firefighters in the World War II years helped mold how the service developed and influenced the leadership of the Brigade in the 1970s Also of interest are his descriptions of how the job impacted family life such as relationships with wives and having to take second jobs to make ends meet things that haven t changed over the decades Finally I was particularly interested on his analysis of the us vs them relationship between the firefighters on the front lines and the command staff above something familiar to anyone who works in public safetyIf I have any complaint about the book it really is a minor one He freuently alludes to health and safety regulations that would soon begin to change the UK Fire Service but he never really gets into any detail on them just making generalizations on the the changes that would come More detail on the regulations and the changes they caused would have been useful to this reader but I understand that the book was written for a UK audience who is probably familiar with the regulations in uestion This leads me to another compliment to Grice s writing the terminology used in the UK fire service is uite different from that used here in the United States but it never becomes confusing because he describes the ranks apparatus and tools being usedIf you have any interest in firefighting or public safety particularly if you work in public safety this is a book you ll want to read

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?? the thick smoke – in order to locate a missing child or to halt a rapidly spreading infernoIn Call the Fire Brigade Grice recounts his most memorable experiences as a front line member of the London Fire Brigade working the city’s East End with its myriad commercial premises brooding Thames side warehouses seedy tenements and colourful cosmopolitan community ranging from prosperous manufactu. The place is London England the era 1970 s In the capitol of the UK millions of people call London home However a brave few view this metropolis as a challenging workplace and formidable battlefield Enter the courageous London Fire Brigade as seen through the eyes of one of its former members Allan Grice For than thirty years Grice worked the mean streets of London s East End home to an impoverished population of Blue Collar workers indigent suatters and gangsters such as the infamous Kray Brothers With apathy and poverty comes a myriad of human suffering and destruction summoning Grice and his valiant compatriots to one modern disaster after another From tenement fires a devastating train derailment and harrowing warehouse fire which was at the time the biggest conflagration since the Blitz There s no shortage of heroism tragedy or dark humor on the East End Watch Allan Grice takes the reader into the sacred halls of the firehouse through candid points of view from those on his Watch and the dirty and gritty work of being a firefighter in the 1970 s He even takes the reader to the States to meet up with the venerable crew of Engine 82 in the Bronx where New York s Bravest graciously welcomed one of their fellow firefighters from across the pond into their firehouse family After running calls with the FDNY for two shifts there really isn t much difference between the poverty of the Bronx and the degradation of London s East End Thankfully there is one constant the firefighters who answer the call for someone s worst day Whether across the pond in London or in New York City firefighters always come when you call Author Allan Grice does an exemplary job describing the humor of the firehouse the emotional and professional mindset of a London Firefighter as well as the danger of confronting a litany of crisis situations on the frontline of London s East End The 1970 s were a turbulent time for the world and first responders were struggling to make the best out of ridiculously chaotic situations with limited modern day euipment and training In the end what made the difference between victory and defeat was a band of brothers who ran into danger to turn the tide on disaster Having seen numerous documentaries on the London Fire Brigade and watched the famed series London s Burning Allan Grice s Call the Fire Brigade is an excellent source for historians firefighting scholars and firefighters alike I was lucky to find this book on Audible and after listening to it Allan Grice s literary memoir puts a very human face to the London Fire Brigade during a time in history when London truly was Burning


5 thoughts on “Call the Fire Brigade

  1. says:

    Call the Fire Brigade Fighting London’s Fires by Allan Grice is a magnificent book about the London Fire Brigade

  2. says:

    The place is London England the era 1970’s In the capitol of the UK millions of people call London home However a brave few view

  3. says:

    FreighterHaving spent 8 years at Clerkenwell C27 this book is an excellent read and depicts the work of the fireman

  4. says:

    Fast paced and action packed in places and a little slow in others But tracks the highs and lows of an LFB member in 1970's First book of this subject I've read so not a lot to compare it to but it kept me entertained and well informed as to the make up and workings of the LFB Worth a read

  5. says:

    My grandad really wanted me to read this and I got 3 pages in and couldn't bring myself to finish it I'm sure it's a great book but for those a little older