A new documentary style film, The Firefighters’ Story: 100 years of the Fire Brigades Union, was launched at Bristol’s Cube cinema on Sunday, 4 February, on the anniversary of the death of firefighter Fleur Lombard, who died on duty after arsonists set a supermarket alight in 1996.
Tam McFarlane, FBU south west EC member, opened the special screening and chaired a lively Q & A session afterwards with FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack. Among the audience asking questions were 3 Labour MPs – Thangam Debonnaire, Kerry McCarthy and David Drew, former Fire Authority Chair Terry Walker and ex councillor Rosalie Walker and South West TUC secretary Nigel Costley.
The hour long film traces the history of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) since its inception at the end of the First World War, and the contribution the union has made over ten decades to improve public and firefighter safety through its campaigning work. Known as ‘tombstone legislation’ these improvements generally follow big fire incidents such as the Manchester Woolworths fire of 1979 which resulted in a ban on foam filled furniture. The Firefighters’ Story, narrated by actress Sue Johnson of The Royle Family fame, explores several major fires – such as the Glasgow Cheapside fire of 1960 in a whisky and tobacco warehouse in which 19 firefighters died – and their subsequent impact on safety. It draws to a close with the Grenfell Tower disaster. A trailer can be seen at fbu.org.uk/news.
Look out for Firefighters Memorial Day on 4th May, when every fire station will hold a minute’s silence at noon commemorating the bravery and sacrifice of those who have lost their lives in this most dangerous profession.