FireStationsmallThe Fire Station on Wilby Road was officially opened on Nov 4th 1972 and remains essentially unchanged to this day. The impressive mural of an old fire engine was created by Robin Welch, who still lives in the village.

It is manned entirely by volunteers under the leadership of Chris Clancy and has a permitted establishment of 11. Their normal radius of operation is about five miles but they will of course travel further if needed. About 60% of the call-outs are to fires and the remaining 40% includes road accidents, horses and cows to be rescued from ditches and just occasionally, a pig to be rescued from a slurry pit! Fortunately!

When a 999 call comes in, all the retained firemen who are in the area are alerted via their personal pagers. They immediately drop everything and rush to the station at top speed. The first four to arrive, as long as at least one senior officer is included, immediately set off on the call with bells ringing and sirens sounding. Later arrivals are not required on that occasion and have to go back home or return to work. Nowadays, everything is computer controlled with up to the minute lists of who is available and where they are.

Every Monday evening is a training night with drill in the use of ladders, pumps and breathing apparatus. Every two weeks there is a lecture on some aspect of fire and rescue and occasional larger exercises at RAF Wattisham.

G 300 Fire Engine from 1813

Stradbroke has had its own fire engine and its own volunteer firemen for a very long time. At first there was simply a double hand-operated pump fixed to the top of an iron-wheeled water tank. This machine was towed to the burning building using horses and understandably getting everything ready to fight the fire took a long time to organise. With any fire there is always a great need to get there as soon as possible.

 

Fire-engine109

 

 

To speed up the process there is a photograph of it being attached to the tow-bar of a Model T Ford for the very first time. What the photograph does not show is that it was tied there too tightly and in fact the whole machine tipped over on the way to a fire along the Laxfield Road.

 

Fire-engine110 

 

Obviously the technique was soon mastered and later Stradbroke had its own magnificent self-propelled fire engine. The Fire Station itself was first situated at Foulsham's, now Lavender & Jude, in a shed along Doctor's Lane and finally at the corner of Wilby Road and Church Street, before moving to the new site.