Retro: How firefighting has changed over the decades

Dennis pump escape fire engine, which served in Wellingborough from 1933 to he early 1950s then St Crispin Hospital in Northampton until the early 1970s. Pic from "Looking Back" feature November 23

Dennis pump escape fire engine, which served in Wellingborough from 1933 to he early 1950s then St Crispin Hospital in Northampton until the early 1970s. Pic from "Looking Back" feature November 23

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The fire service in the county is constantly adapting – as these photographs prove.

The number of fires in Northamptonshire has fallen in recent years, thanks largely to the efforts of firefighters.

Members of Irthlingborough Fire Brigade pose with their horse-drawn engine outside the Methodist Church and on the Recreation Ground. They are under the command of Fire Officer Joe Inward.

Members of Irthlingborough Fire Brigade pose with their horse-drawn engine outside the Methodist Church and on the Recreation Ground. They are under the command of Fire Officer Joe Inward.

But fire engines have always been perhaps the most important vehicles on the road, packed with the latest life-saving equipment.

One of the earliest fire engine pictures in the county is of the one belonging to the Irthlingborough fire brigade, which bought a horse-drawn engine in the late 19th century.

But there were some drawbacks – on at least one occasion the engine was delayed in setting off while the horses were fetched from a field.

Technology had moved on by the time a blaze engulfed the Bryan and Son factory in Trafalgar Road, Kettering, in 1935. The fire brigade earned the thanks of managing director BW Cunnington, who said: “I want to thank them heartily for what they did. Their efforts were magnificent.”

Fire at Bran and Son factory in Trafalgar Road, Kettering, in June 1935. From the Kettering Leader and Guardian

Fire at Bran and Son factory in Trafalgar Road, Kettering, in June 1935. From the Kettering Leader and Guardian

Also shown is a Dennis fire pump which served in Wellingborough for about two decades from 1933. Among the emergencies it tackled was the gutting of St Barnabas Church in the town in May 1949.

Firefighting provision has always adapted, and it is no different today. A campaign is running to give a voice to those who oppose scrapping Corby’s second fire engine – while a cautious welcome has been given to a new joint vehicle run by the fire and police services in and around Oundle.

Firefighter Nigel Scotney guides the fire engine up Digby Stree, Kettering, March 5, 1998

Firefighter Nigel Scotney guides the fire engine up Digby Stree, Kettering, March 5, 1998