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Ride with a WW2 fire engine (audio)
One of the preparations Britain made for war was to create an Auxiliary Fire Service with 25,000 members that would fight fires alongside the regular fire brigade. The bombardment that began on 7 September 1940 caused the biggest fires seen in London since the Great Fire of 1666. Many members of the AFS had never fought major fires before and now found themselves expected to deal with major incidents on an unprecedented scale. Many of the bombs dropped on London and other major cities were incendiary devices intended to start fires. These bombs had the dual effect of spreading destruction and lighting up the city to make it easier as a target.
Firefighters worked in very demanding conditions. They worked during raids, while the bombs were still falling. They were at risk from collapsing buildings and shrapnel from anti-aircraft guns. They often worked 15 hours at a time, in clothes that were soaked through. The fire service played a key role in ensuring that some cities were not totally destroyed during the war. Please note this is an audio clip and only available with the Flash player.
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