The Firefighters Memorial Trust online Book of Remembrance offers a user-friendly way for families and friends of those who have died in the course of their duties, to add their personal tributes and memories.
Alan House, Chief Operating Officer and archivist for the Trust, and himself a recipient of the Queen’s Fire Service Medal, says “Our work seeks to honour all members of the Fire and Rescue Service who have died protecting our communities, dating back to 1720. The Online Book has taken our tributes around the world…Every day individual names are displayed commemorating the anniversaries of each death and this recognition brings comfort and creates a strong sense of community.”
Primarily designed for remembrance, it also very ably demonstrates the versatility of online books: Since its inception, the book has become an invaluable source of information for family history and fire brigade history research.
Giving recognition should come naturally
One of the Trust’s stated aims is their commitment to ongoing research of names that may qualify for inclusion in the Memorial which is situated opposite St Paul’s Cathedral in London, in the Book and other Trust records. The highly engaging and interactive nature of their online book has meant that the Trust has become instrumental in unearthing items of historical significance and bringing forgotten histories to life.
One such episode from Bradford’s local history centres on firefighter Knighton Pridmore who was one of 40 people killed in the Low Moor Explosion in August 1916. Low Moor had housed a munitions factory manufacturing piric acid for use in the war effort. When Alan House added Knighton Pridmore’s tribute to the Book, Nicholas Pinches whose wife is Pridmore’s great grand-daughter, complemented the tribute with a photograph of the firefigher in his uniform together with some details about how he’d come to be in the fire service. A groom and farrier, Knighton Pridmore had, from 1887, looked after the horses that drew the fire engines. With the advent of motorised engines Pridmore chose to become a firefighter himself. Nicholas Pinches has now shared a further photograph which shows Pridmore (left) with the last two remaining fire service horses, Nelson and Admiral, before they were sold, standing alongside the first motorised fire engine in 1913/4.
Alan House comments, “We are delighted with the response our Online Book of Remembrance generates and are looking forward to working with The Online Book Company to further develop what we have created.
Galvanising global support
Reinforcing all aspects of our work, the Book provides a year-round, worldwide presence, complementing initiatives such as our recently introduced Firefighters Memorial Day (4th May). In just two years, the Day has become a firm fixture in the calendar attracting support from serving and past members of the Service, as well as members of the public.
The Sunday nearest the event, this year falling on 5th May, will see the annual Service of Remembrance and Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Firefighters Memorial in London. This is a wonderful occasion where families and supporters take part in a moving act of tribute, remembering fallen firefighters with great pride.”