Fire Brigades Union

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Executive Council minutes, 1975-94; annual conference agendas & reports, 1927, 1938-93 (incomplete); other FBU conference reports, 1945-60; Professional Management Committee minutes, 1941-3; various FBU minutes, 1934-41 (incomplete); other minutes, 1946-94; annual accounts, 1938, 1970-82; subject files including Sizewell Public Inquiry, 1980s, national strike, 1977; annual reports, 1938, 1970-82 (incomplete); rule books, 1919-78 (incomplete); pamphlets, leaflets, journals including Firefighter, 1941-97 and The Collecting Head, 1943-5; press-cuttings, 1935-95.

National Fire Brigades Union: correspondence and ephemera, including journal, 1888-1901 (MSS.346/6/3).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) was founded in 1918 as the Firemen's Trade Union. The union began its life as a body very much based around the London area but soon expanded to include provincial brigades. In 1930, the union changed its name to the Fire Brigades Union. Just prior to the Second World War, local authorities anticipated hostilities by recruiting for the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS). The reaction of the FBU was initially hostile to this development as members feared that the AFS would adversely affect their pay and conditions. The FBU's General Secretary, John Horner, persuaded the union to incorporate the AFS, however, thus forming the AFS section of the FBU. Since the war the union has established for itself a radical political identity.

Reference: G.V. Blackstone, A history of the British Fire Service. 1957. ; Frederick Radford, Fetch the engine : the official history of the Fire Brigades Union. 1951 ; Victor Bailey (ed.), Forged in Fire: the history of the Fire Brigades Union.1992.

Conditions Governing Access

Open.

Archivist's Note

Much of the collection has been catalogued to file level and a paper copy of this catalogue is available in the Centre's searchroom. Other parts of the archive have interim lists to varying levels and are awaiting cataloguing to file level.

Authority files exist for the Fire Brigades Union (GB 152 AAR1193) and its predecessor the Firemen's Trade Union (GBR 0152 AAR1192).

Custodial History

The Fire Brigades Union began depositing records at the Centre on indefinite loan in 1994. There has since been fifteen accruals to the archive. Unfortunately, most of the pre-war FBU archives were destroyed during the Blitz and other papers perished in a subsequent office fire. Nevertheless, the union's post-war activities are well represented in the FBU archive, which also illustrates the union's radical political identity. Researchers should note, though, that the union has retained custody of Executive Council minutes. Applications to consult this material should therefore be made directly to the union (FBU, Bradley House, 68 Coombe Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey KT2 9AE). The Centre is very grateful to Dr. Terry Segars, David Shephard, Philippa Clark and the National Museum of Labour History for their assistance with this deposit.

Corporate Names