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Second City of The Empire: 1830s to 1914

Everyday Life

Glasgow Fire Service

By Robert H James

Advertisement By the 1830s Glasgow Fire Department was becoming a structured, cohesive organisation due to a remarkably comprehensive code of regulations drawn up between the magistrates and the police in 1834. Even the work of the water carters was being superseded as the installation of water mains under the streets of the town progressed. This increasingly allowed firemen to draw unlimited supplies directly through fire-plugs set into the water mains.

Springburn Fire Brigade Manual fire engines became bigger due to the increasing size of the buildings and consequently these required large numbers of men to operate them. In 1843-44, Mr Robertson, Superintendent of the Fire Department, designed and had built a manual fire engine named Clyde, a three-ton giant needing thirty-two men to operate it. This manpower requirement was excessive and, being too large to move quickly, it was found wanting. The Central Fire Engine Station opened in 1851 in College Street and the first horse-drawn steam fire engine rolled out on its granite tracks in 1870.

Motor fire engine Glasgow continued growing in size, extending its boundaries and influence by incorporating outlying areas. As the city grew so did the fire brigade organisation. In 1891 Glasgow Fire Department was wholly re-organised with full-time staff and was therefore no longer reliant on police auxiliaries to fill the personnel shortfall. Glasgow's magnificent new Central Fire Station in Ingram Street opened in 1900 and in November 1905 it was the first fire station in the city to receive a petrol-engined appliance from the Wolseley Tool & Motor Car Co - the precursor of future trends.

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