Devon Fire and Rescue Service
Devon Fire Brigade was formed in 1973 by the amalgamation of Exeter City Brigade, Plymouth City Brigade and Devon County Brigade, and became Devon Fire and Rescue Service in 1987.
In 1998 control of the Fire Service transferred from the existing Devon County Council to a Combined Fire Authority (CFA) made up of representatives from the new Unitary Authority of Plymouth, Torbay and the remaining Devon County Council.
As an historic county, Devon has a long and varied past, which has influenced settlement patterns. Up to the 19th century Devon had a long established pattern of small market towns and compact villages throughout the county which are still of substantial importance today. Over the past hundred years the settlement pattern had been greatly influenced by the growth of the coastal towns, particularly on the south coast. This trend has become more pronounced over the last three decades, not only with the increase in tourism but also with the continuing increase in the number of retired persons taking up residence.
Somerset Fire & Rescue Service
The history of Somerset Fire Brigade and latterly renamed Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, ranges from the early pre and post Second World war periods, right up to the present day, with the formation of local authority fire brigades in 1948 and the reorganization in 1974. Advances in technology and rationalization have transformed the Brigade during this time.
1948 - 1959: The Early Years
Somerset Fire Brigade was first formed on 1st April 1948 and the first Annual Report was produced on the 9th June 1949. The early years saw a mixture of Auxiliary Fire Service personnel and County appointed personnel, with the County being divided into three areas, A, B and C Divisions. A Division was based at Weston-super-Mare, B Division was at Yeovil and C Division at Taunton. The Brigade Headquarters was at number 41, Upper High Street Taunton and was later moved to Hestercombe House, where the new Fire Control was sited.
1959 - 1968: The AFS Disbands
This period saw the final days of the Auxillary Fire Service involvement,which was officially disbanded on March 28th, 1968. This occasion was marked with a formal ceremony at Hestercombe House and a certificate to commemorate the event was presented to the Chief Fire Officer, A.L. Bullion. This certificate will be on display at the new West of England Fire Heritage Museum. Some of the Volunteer Fire Stations were closed down but a few of the buildings still survive around the County. There are still some AFS personnel surviving today, but are becoming fewer in number as time goes by.
1969 - 1978: Changes in the Old County
Somerset was once one of the largest Counties in England and probably boasted the largest land area with the lowest population numbers. But its population in their scattered and tight knit rural communities, may have had a greater affinity towards each other and felt more keenly the loss of life from fire in their community, than those in the big cities. The formation of fire crews inevitably drew on the resources of the local people who had valuable first hand knowledge of the local and surrounding areas and were very experienced in its particular problems and difficulties. The year 1974 brought significant changes to the area. County boundaries the length and breadth of the Country were redefined and produced the County of Avon from part of the North East area of the County of Somerset. Other new Authorities were formed and residents of some parts of the old County of Somerset found themselves with new addresses and post codes.
Another change was made to the number of hours worked per week by firefighters. These were altered so that firefighters were expected to work a forty eight hour per week shift pattern from a fifty six hour per week shift pattern. As the County Boundary changed, the number of Fire Stations and personnel in the County were reduced.
1979 - 1988: The Formation of a New Watch
In this era, further changes in the Brigades' working conditions took place. This was a reduction in the number of working hours per week from 48hours to 42 hours per week. This necessitated the introduction of more personnel to provide 24 hour emergency cover at full time fire stations. A new watch therefore had to be formed to cater for this arrangement and Green Watch was created to support the existing Red,White and Blue Watches. This change did not materially affect the part time (or retained) staff significantly.
1989 - 1998: Communication and Dedication
This was a period of great change in the Service. Appliances were becoming faster, more and new equipment was carried to deal with increasing numbers of traffic accidents, a change of title from fireman to firefighter was imposed, to cater for the less gender based description of the service for new recruits. The methods of communication advanced rapidly and Breathing Apparatus design moved forward and became more user friendly
1999 - 2007
Methods of assessing the levels of risk and developing emergency contingency plans continued at a pace. Technology developed at ever increasing speed.
Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service
Devon Fire and Rescue Service and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service combined into one service on 1 April 2007.