1. #1
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    Oct 2002
    London, England

    Default Thirty years ago

    Thirty years ago tonight a Fire was started in a Hotel In Maida Vale West London.

    It was a fire like many others in that area of London in that era...fire racing through inter-connected Buildings, people in their dozens srceaming for rescue, Firemen racing from across West & Central London to the rescue.

    At 03:32 hrs on Friday December 13th 1974, the Pump Escape, Pump, Turntable Ladder and Emergency Tender from A21 Paddington and the Pump from A22 Manchester Square were called to what was to become the biggest fire of the year in London, the 30 Pump Fire at the Worsley Hotel, Clifton Garden Maida Vale W9.

    After an hour or so of dogged Firefighting where around 50 rescues had been performed by Firemen from a variety of Windows, Balconies and ledges a collapse of the roof and upper floors occured burying 4 Firefighters, one of which, a Young probationary Firefighter called Hamish 'Harry' Petit sadly died.

    What makes this story so special? London and other places have seen many multi rescue Incidents, many other Fireman have sadly died. The difference here was that A21 Paddington at the time had a friend in TV news man & Author Gordon Honeycombe, he was so moved my the story of the fire he went on to write one of the best selling true life Firefighting books ever published...'Red Watch'

    I'm sure there are many in the UK Fire Service and who have been inspired to join by this book. It is one of the most detailed accounts of Fire Station life I have ever read...and I have read a few. 300 pages covering a 4 day period in December 1974.

    It hardly seems possible that 23 years have passed since I first read that book and 20 years to the day have passed when as a young 'wannabe' firefighter I rode up to Maida Vale on the 10th Anniversary of the fire on my Motor Bike 'just to be there' so inspired by the story as I was.

    Being sentimental, I may sit up tonight to raise a glass to Harry and everyone who was there at the time, wherever they are now. I may read a few pages from the book but mostly...

    There is a line in the end of the book where Gordon Honeycombe is talking to Neil Wallington, the Station Officer of the R/W at A21 at the time. They are talking about not forgetting about Harry and how the book will ensure his memory is kept alive.

    Well, thirty years on I will be remembering Harry and his sacrifice as probably will his family, friends, colleagues any many of the people who have read Red Watch.... there you go, he was remembered.
    Last edited by SteveDude; 12-12-2004 at 03:57 PM.
    Steve Dude
    IACOJ member

    London Fire Brigade...."Can Do"

    'Irony'... It's a British thing.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2004


    Well remembered Steve,
    I read the book, someone lent me a copy when i first joined. truly inspiring and as you said a very detailed account of the fire.

    I wonder if the Crews at A21 or any of the older members are doing anythig for the anniversary?

  3. #3
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    Oct 2002
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    Just found a copy of the incident report for this job...probably of no interst to anyone, but I'll post it anyway in memory of the lad who died...


    0332: TOC:

    A21 Paddington PE P TL ET
    A22 Manchester Square PE

    Augmented by:

    G26 Belsize P

    0335: “From Stn/O Wallington: Make Pumps 8, persons reported.”

    G26 Belsize PE
    A29 North Kensington PE
    G25 West Hampstead PE P
    G24 Hendon HLL
    C27 Clerkenwell ET
    “A” DHQ BACV
    Headquarters CU

    0341: “From Stn/O Wallington: Make Pumps 15, BA required.”

    A28 Kensington PE
    A24 Soho PE P
    A25 Westminster PE P
    C27 Clerkenwell PE P

    0346: “From ADO Rowley: Make Turntable Ladders 3.”

    A28 Kensington TL
    B22 Lambeth TL

    0347: “From ADO Rowley: 30 persons involved on upper floors – TL, escapes, first-floor ladders in use.”

    0349: “From ADO Rowley: Informative: Hotel of 5 floors and basement, half of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th floors

    0406: “From DO Keable: Make Pumps 20.”

    A28 Kensington P from A21
    A26 Knightsbridge P
    C30 Holloway P
    G28 Willesden P
    D24 Fulham P

    0415: “From DACO Pearce: Make Pumps 30.”

    D22 Acton P by radio, (e-r A21)
    G24 Hendon P
    D23 Hammersmith P
    A27 Chelsea P
    B22 Lambeth PE P
    C28 Islington PE P
    C25 Cannon Street PE P

    0417: “From DACO Pearce: Hotel of 5 floors and basement, 160’ x 80’. One fifth of second floor, quarter
    third, half fourth floors and roof alight. Unknown number of persons involved. Several rescues
    effected. Water shortage.

    0435: “From DCO Burrell: Internal stone staircases collapsed. Escapes in use at 2nd & 3rd floor level at
    front of building. Unknown number of persons involved.”

    0450: FROM OPS ROOM BY EX-TEL: From DCO Burrell at Clifton Gardens: Fm Ogden attached to
    A29 Red Watch removed to St Mary’s Hospital, W2, with lacerated finger.

    0459: “From DCO Burrell: Fire Surrounded.

    0501: “From DCO Burrell: 6 emergency lights required.”

    0505: “From DCO Burrell: Two members of brigade trapped by fall of debris in front room on second
    floor. Efforts being made to release. Ambulance standing by.

    0556: FROM OPS ROOM BY EX-TEL: From DCO Burrell at Clifton Gardens: One fireman released
    injured and removed. Two firemen still trapped. Efforts being made to release.

    0556: “From DCO Burrell: 8 pumps, 4 Stn/O’s, 1 DO, 1 ADO required for reliefs at 0630.”

    0609: “From DCO Burrell: Gas apparatus involved. Unable to shut down supply. Request attendance
    of Gas authority.”

    0612: TO WEM CON FROM OPS ROOM: From DCO Burrell at Clifton Gardens: A second member
    of the brigade has now been released injured and removed. Two further members of the brigade
    are still trapped. Efforts being made to release.

    0721: TO WEM CON FROM OPS ROOM: From DCO Burrell at Clifton Gardens: Difficulty being
    experienced in releasing trapped personnel due to confined access and fallen debris. Slow progress
    being made.

    0742: TO WEM CON FROM OPS ROOM: From DCO Burrell at Clifton Gardens: Third member of
    brigade injured and released. Fourth member of brigade still trapped. Efforts being made to release.

    A21 A22 A29 A28 A24 A25 A26 A27 “A” Division
    G24 G25 G26 G28 G29
    C25 C27 C28 C30
    D22 D23 D24 D25
    Stratford, Croydon, LSC, Operations Room.

    From DCO Burrell: Stop for Worsley Hotel, Clifton Gardens. Hotel, five floors and basement,
    150’ x 50’ . Half first floor, whole second, third, fourth floors damaged by fire and roof off.
    Twelve jets, BA. All persons not yet accounted for. Same as all calls. Time of ‘stop’ 0802.

    Fireman Hamish Harry Pettit was killed in this fire, which also claimed the lives of six civilians within
    The hotel.

    On December 1st, 1975, - and following a re-trial – a kitchen porter, Edward Mansfield (41) was found
    Not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of the above seven, and of three charges of arson;
    Two referring to fires at the Piccadilly Hotel on 19/12/74 and 29/12/74. He was gaoled for life.

    The messages shown in this report are extracted from “Red Watch” by Gordon Honeycombe.

    Last edited by SteveDude; 12-12-2004 at 05:56 PM.
    Steve Dude
    IACOJ member

    London Fire Brigade...."Can Do"

    'Irony'... It's a British thing.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2001


    To the memory of Fireman Hamish Harry Pettit.

    Thanks for the post Steve.

  5. #5
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    Jul 2004
    The merry old land of Oz

    Thumbs up

    I'll tip a mug of coffee to Harry tomowwow.


  6. #6
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    draco9's Avatar
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    Mar 2003


    Hi, Steve
    a new story for me, thanks. Going to look for the book: amazon maybe, but it is very old. Hope to find it.

    Time goes by very fast, and new stories overlap old stories.
    As all what is left about who is not here are our memories and records, it is our duty and merit to remember amd share in our left days.
    You made it.

    thanks, ciao

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