Firefighters remember first fireman

Serving and retired firefighters held a sombre graveside memorial service yesterday, for London’s first fire superintendent, who was killed in the line of duty 150 years ago.

Officers stood in the rain at Abney Park Trust Victorian Garden Cemetery to pay tribute to James Braidwood, who died in the famous Tooley Street blaze in South London in1861.

Deputy commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Rita Dexter, spoke at the service, which was led by Rev Philip Majcher, of the Crown Court Church of Scotland.

The Retired Members Association and serving officers solemnly stood to attention as they commemorated the life of the man London fire commissioner Ron Dobson credited with laying the foundations for the modern brigade.

Previously, firefighters would only attend blazes at insured buildings, but after Braidwood’s death, the system was changed so officers would attempt to save all buildings – whether they were insured or not.

Braidwood also introduced a standard uniform for his officers, and worked hard to educate businesses on the importance of fire prevention.