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Peterborough Volunteer Fire Brigade


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Just seen an instagram post featuring the Peterborough Volunteer Fire Brigade. Didn't know there was many volunteer fire brigades outside the highlands of Scotland. Genuinely interested and wondered if anyone had more info, my geography isn't the best but Peterborough is a bigish place isn't it? How do they function? etc 


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They have always baffled me too. How did they resist the post war amalgamations that went on after the NFS days and remain independent? given that its urban Peterborough and not some far away Scottish Island or Cornish fishing village?

Most small fire stations, largely retained, started as as some community initiative or by some wealthy benefactor starting one up but they almost all got subsumed into the wider brigades eventually.

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They produced a book called “Ready and Willing - a history of the Peterborough Volunteer Fire Brigade” for their centenary in 1984.  I have a copy in my bookshelf.  Very interesting read on why they were formed, how they operate and their many fights for survival in 1948 and during the subsequent reorganisations as well as a few significant jobs down the years.  You might find a copy available online in a second hand book dealers.


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So are they the only station in Peterborough? What kind of call volume do they get and how far away are their supporting stations?

I am with you @OscarTangoMakes me wonder why they have resisted instead of just going retained and being paid for their efforts.  

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There is Stanground and Dogsthorpe in Peterborough plus 3 other stations at Yaxley, Thorney and Whittlesey which are all close by.

They operate under a contract with Cambridgeshire as seen here.

There are a few volunteer stations around in the UK I think another is over in Wales but not 100% sure on them all now as I know a few up Scotland were upgraded to retained status.

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TandA: "I have the facts"

Also TandA: "but I'm not telling you."


In all seriousness how does it work having stations that are intergrated into a brigade (there are two voulunteer stations in Devon and Somerset FRS) that are paid next to those that are voulunteer? Are they in the Union too? How does a fire authority justify in this day and age having two (on paper) crews who do the same job with the same equipment and same training, only one does it for free? Sounds like some weird legal quirk that this country loves so much.

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@OscarTango The book is 96 pages and I hadn’t opened it for at least 15 years so until I just tried to find you the answers you seek!  I can’t find the section I need at the mo as the book jumps about a bit and covers lots of negotiations from 1948 to 1984.  I will answer from memory and you will have to excuse me if I get this wrong (and keep in mind the book ends in 1984).  

As I recall, the individual firefighters don’t get paid, but I believe CFRS pay the PVFB the equivalent of the total Retained payments that would have been due in normal circumstances and they go into Brigade funds to allow them to function as they see fit within reason.  PVFB used to buy their own pumps, but CFRS now pay all the equipment costs too, although PVFB have made significant capital contributions from their funds towards the rebuilding of their station on at least two occasions.  To all intents and purposes they are a Retained station rather than a station of Retained firefighters.

The book does give a very clear indication that the members of the PVFB are strongly motivated by the history of their Brigade (it started as an alternative to the old Corporation [town council] Brigade in 1884 because the corporation Brigade wasn’t up to snuff) and they worked hard to remain independent.

It is a historical anomaly but one that I personally like to see continue.  Why destroy 140 years of history when the agreement under which they operate seems to ensure they are effective even if they operate slightly differently.

The book goes into great detail about the huge amount of work several of their members put in in 1938 and 1947/8 to avoid disbandment in wartime related reorganisations of fire cover and again in 1965 and 1974 when the Soke of Peterborough FB merged first with Huntingdon and ultimately Cambridgeshire.

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