Fire Brigades Union

Scope and Content

Executive Council minutes, 1975-94; annual conference agenda and reports, 1927, 1938-95 (incomplete series); other FBU conference reports, 1945-60; Professional Management Committee minutes, 1941-3; various FBU minutes, 1934-41 (incomplete series); other minutes, 1946-94; annual accounts, 1938, 1970-82; subject files including Sizewell Public Inquiry, 1980s, papers on national strike, 1977; annual reports, 1938, 1970-82 (incomplete series); rule books, 1919-78 (incomplete series); pamphlets and leaflets; journals, including Firefighter,1932-2018 and The Collecting Head, 1943-5; press-cuttings, 1935-95; some photographs of FBU leaders.

Publicity material relating to the strike in 2002-2003 (includes baseball hats, jumpers, teeshirts, stickers etc as well as publicity packs and press releases).

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

David Shephard papers: minutes, correspondence, publications, press cuttings, 1947-95.

FBU(B) includes FBU Annual Conference Agendas, Executive Council reports, subject files relating to various activities of the FBU, including the industrial action of 1951, Firejournal 1929-1943, The Collecting Head, journal of the Army Fire Service, 1943-1945, miscellaneous publications; 346b also includes the deposit of the papers of David Shepherd (MSS.346B/6/2), former member of the FBU Executive Council, including agendas and proceedings of FBU Annual Conferences 1970s-1990s, subject files and newspaper cuttings concerning industrial action (predominantly the 1977 dispute), papers written by David Shepherd and miscellaneous publications.

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. The archive includes papers of David Shephard, who was a member of the Executive Council of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), 1975-94. David Shephard belonged to the East Sussex Fire Brigade and, in addition to his membership of the Executive Council and numerous sub-committees, he was a prominent and active member of the union at a regional level. He was Regional Education Officer, Press and Firefighter Representative, and Brigade Secretary inter alia.

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)

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers (except for one legal file in the David Shephard papers, which is closed until 2069) by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Acquisition Information

The Fire Brigades Union began depositing records at the Centre on indefinite loan in 1994. The David Shephard papers were deposited by his family in 1998.

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.

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.

Appraisal Information

This collection has been weeded for duplicates. Unfortunately, most of the pre-war FBU archives were destroyed during the Blitz and other papers perished in a subsequent office fire.


Further deposits are expected. Additional material deposited Dec 2016.