Penistone Fire Crew

New Fire StationNew Fire Station
Penistone has long had a fire and ambulance station but since the pictures below were taken (Aug. 2000), the whole caboodle has moved into purpose-built buildings in a new location at Spring Vale council depot on Sheffield Road (Sept 2009). The old location has been completely flattened. That puts this page out of date but, what the 'eck, it's too good to waste.

The shiny new fire station in Spring Vale is being used for community events in its comfortable meeting room with kitchen. That's the window to the right of the big doors. The panoramic view shows it on a cool evening in April 2010, just before dusk. Notice that they still have a tower for fire exercises.

All Fired up for an Exercise
In this section we watch the fire crew doing a routine drill. For this exercise the tower simulates a burning multi-storey building. The centre picture shows the location of the fire station relative to the church. The market is just off-picture to the right. The old siren is still in place, atop the tower, but is not often used these days as the firemen can usually be telephoned.

The open-sided fire engine shows a cutting device and various hoses. The cutter might be used to take the roof from a crashed vehicle to remove the trapped occupants. Fire hydrants in the UK are hidden beneath small metal covers in the pavement, marked by a small 'H' plate nearby. Call-outs are co-ordinated by crackling VHF radio from a control centre which processes incoming '999' emergency telephone calls.

Fire EngineFire StationFire Engine

We're Off
The exercise starts with the fire engine being driven to the left side of the tower, ready for the main ladder to be removed. The crew lines up and the chief decides who is in each of two groups. All with military precision, not like the children's tv cartoon, 'Trumpton'. Remember - "Pugh, Hugh, Barney McGrue, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb".

The driver manoeuvres the fire engine ready for the ladder to be removed and leant against the tower. Our fearless heroes prepare to ascend it. However, on this occasion, they are a little nervous of my camera. 'Never mind the silly photographer....', says the chief, 'Get on with it!', he bellows, and into action they spring (expletives deleted).

Driver, see leftNot clickablePugh, pugh, Barney, McGrew...Cuthbert, Dibble & Grubb

Dusk descends and up into the blazing building they go. An axe is needed to break down a locked door. So, with skill and precision, the axe is roped and drawn up to the floor. The fair maiden, or whatever, is then to be rescued down the long ladder. "How can I ever thank you", she coos. "I'm sure I'll think of something, my dear lady" - says he. An efficient and successful mission and now its time for a pot of tea in the rest room. (USA readers, not that kind of rest room.)

Ladder's up Now what? This is an axe!

Worthy Volunteers
Unlike in other countries, our UK fire service is paid out of local taxes. There is no wrangling over areas or insurance companies in our country but a false call-out can result in a large bill. Emergency phone calls are instantly traced in the UK, even to call boxes. Small town crews like ours are part-time and will have other jobs but city fire services have full-time crews. Penistone's rapidly increasing population, housing and traffic makes these worthy volunteers more important than ever before. Even so, the powers-that-be reduced the number of fire engines from two to just one because they calculated that back-up could arrive quickly via the new Dodworth bypass.

I have a personal thank-you for the firemen of Penistone, from when I slipped and fell one evening. I cut my head while I tried to displace part of St Mary's St stone bridge with my head, after a night out. Those kind firemen did some first aid and I had to go to hospital for some stitches. The bridge was alright.


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