The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have unveiled a memorial plaque to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of two firefighters who lost their lives fighting the Smithfield Market fire in 1958 in London.
One of the original fire engines that attended the scene 60 years ago was in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony, where a wreath was be laid by FBU general secretary Matt Wrack for fallen firefighters Jack Fourt-Wells and Richard Stocking. Both men died in a smoke-logged basement in the poultry market at Smithfield after running out of air before being found tragically near to the exit and safety.
The lessons learned from the fire, which destroyed the building totally after raging for 3 days, led to drastic improvements to firefighting equipment such as breathing apparatus, and also to safety procedures.
The memorial is part of the FBU’s Red Plaque Scheme, launched to mark the union’s centenary this year with funds from its Firefighters 100 Lottery. It is hoped that more commemorative plaques will be unveiled later on in the year.
Matt Wrack said: “The legacy of Smithfield, like so many other big fires, was a significant improvement to fire safety and firefighting equipment and procedures. Today, it has taken the atrocity of the Grenfell Tower fire to highlight issues such as the importance of independent, robust fire safety checks and stringent building regulations.
“We are in 2018 proudly marking our first 100 years. We plan to be around for the next 100, and will always campaign vigorously and unrelentingly for improvements to fire safety, for the benefit of the public and firefighters.”
For more information visit: www.fbu.org