In August 1941 the National Fire Service was formed by amalgamating nearly 1600 local fire services and the Auxiliary Fire Service into a single entity covering the whole country. This new nationwide service was administratively split into around forty regional fire forces and the force covering much of the West Riding of Yorkshire was the No 5 Fire Force. Tonight we have a period map of the region with the different fire forces labelled:No 5 Fire Force Area is the focus of the map and its borders are clearly marked with a deeper and darker outline than the adjoining forces:A small key indicates what the map depicts and includes the badge of the National Fire Service:No 5 Fire Force Area’s Chief Clerk, AB Trundell, writing in late 1941 described the elements that made up the new regional force:
For the purposes of administration the No 5 Fire Force Area is within the No 2 Region under the Chief Regional Fire Officer, who is responsible to the Regional Commissioner. The Fire Force Area covers approximately 900 square miles and extends from Sedbergh in the north to Holmfirth in the south, and from Wharfdale on the east to Bowland at its boundary with Lancashire on the west. There are within the Fire Force Area at present time some 33 local government authorities as follows:-
County Boroughs- 3
Urban Districts- 21
The area as a whole has again been divided into Divisions covering 84 stations now established. The total administrative strength is 226.
J Downs, the commander of the area reflected on nationalisation:
In August 1941 the territory now known as No 5 Fire Force Area consisted of 33 local authorities, each possessing fire brigades and AFS organisations of varying sizes and types. These were spread over some 900 square miles and contained the major portion of the woollen and worsted industry, with a population of approximately one million. A very important part of this country and a vital one from an industrial point of view.
The regulations provided for this to be taken over in so far as fire cover was concerned, “lock, stock and barrel” both operationally and administratively.
Operationally it meant the organisation of large numbers of pumps, special appliances and personnel into a unified Fire Force in divisions, and the establishing of an effective system of control with a definite chain of command. This involved new headquarters and control rooms, a complete new lay out of telephone communications, new stations and improvements to existing ones. It involved the up of schools for both men and women where instruction could be given on a nationally adopted standard and where women could be taught to take over duties previously carried out by firemen and thereby release the latter for active fire-fighting duties. It involved the construction of static water tanks with a total capacity of millions of gallons, the laying of 12 1/2 miles of steel piping and the building up of a predetermined water relay system for the purpose of delivering water to the fire ground and replenishment of supplies.