In the early days, fires in Barbados were combated by the use of horse-drawn water carts and in rural communities they were fought by the "bucket brigades." By 1840, the Bridgetown Fire Company was established with one Corporal and 15 men under the command of the Inspector-General (Colonial Authority). A year later, the House of Assembly passed laws which enabled police officers at Holetown, Speightstown and Bridgetown to become members of the Bridgetown Fire Company. In 1947, the estimated expenditure of the Brigade for the financial year 1947-1948 was £6,704.00. Club Willow, a property located on Probyn Street (Bridgetown) was purchased in 1950 and became the new fire station.
The Barbados Fire Brigade, which consisted of one station, was established through an Act of Parliament in April, 1955. Its name was subsequently changed in 1960 to the Barbados Fire Service. It had a complement of 26 fire officers (all ranks included). Colonel R.J.Mitchelin O.B.E (Commissioner of Police) initially had responsibility for the administration of the Fire Brigade as Superintendent. But this came to an end on April 15, 1955.
On April 15, Major Albert George Bradford was appointed Superintendent, thus placing the Fire Service under his exclusive authority as Chief Fire Officer. The change in Administration coincided with the occupancy of the new Headquarters Station on Probyn Street. It also saw the handing over of correspondence, files, office equipment, stores equipment and general financial and administrative matters from the Police Department.
The Fire Brigade was served by a fleet of appliances namely, one Dennis Pump Escape, two 600 gallon Dennis Water Tenders, one Merryweather Pump, one 350 gallon Austin Water Tender and two Trailer Pumps.
In 1957, the Fire Brigade took over the administration of the Airport Fire Station, which was previously managed by the Civil Aviation Authority and catered specifically to the firefighting and rescue services at the former Seawell Airport. The years 1958 to 1961 saw the opening of three sub-stations: Worthing, St. James and St. John. The new Fire Station at Worthing was completed and occupied on September 3, 1959, while the St. James Station was opened on March 25, 1960. By 1961, the numbers of the Fire Service had slowly progressed to 87.
The year 1979 was a very special one for the Fire Service. The department welcomed its first female members; six women joined the ranks. To date, Ten Fire Chiefs have presided over the administration of the department: Major Albert Bradford (1955-1969), Mr. St. Clair Clarke (1969-1979), Mr. George Gittens (1979-1987), Mr. William Jones (1987-1990), Mr. Carol Christie (1990-1992), Mr. Velmo Cadogan (1992 to August 2002) and Mr. Clifford Clarke (August 2002 to October 2002). Mr. Chesterfield Mayers (October 2002 to October 2007).Anthony Blackman (October 2007 to 2009)Randolph Cox was acting Chief Fire Officer( 2009 to May 2010)Mr.Wilfred Marshall is presently the Chief Fire Officer. The Fire Service today has 239 officers (all ranks included).
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