Best Book Publishers UK | Austin Macauley Publishers

By: David C. Pike

I Was a London Firefighter

Pages: 358 Ratings:
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What is a firefighter?
They are the person next door…
They are like you and me with warts and worries and unfulfilled dreams.
Yet they stand taller than most of us.


The latest book from author and retired fireman David Pike, I Was a London Firefighter is an anthology of factual narratives and fictional tales loosely based around the personal experiences of individual members of the London Fire Brigade. Ranging from the mid-19th century to the present day, the book includes direct reminiscences by former firefighters alongside descriptions of key historical figures like Massey Shaw, Sidney Gamble and Joe Milner. It takes in such subjects as the IRA’s 20'year bombing campaign in London and the changing status of female firefighters.
Running through the book is a series of gripping historical narratives subtitled ‘Yesteryear’s Fires’, depicting the heroic professionalism of firefighters confronted by truly harrowing disasters. Some of these remain all-too-familiar, such as the King’s Cross fire of 1987 which claimed the lives of 31 people; others, no less terrible, have faded into distant memory. The book ends with a fresh and compelling description of a horrifying tragedy that no one can have forgotten: 2017’s Grenfell Tower fire.
I Was a London Firefighter shares with David’s previous works – Beyond the Flames, London Firefighters and Fire-Floats and Fireboats – a careful and comprehensive approach to historical research, an eye for striking and unusual narrative details and an understated humour. Above all, it shows an unwavering appreciation of and empathy for the concerns and drives of the ordinary firefighter, born of David’s own experiences as a fireman.

Starting his career as a fire-cadet at sixteen the author rose to senior rank, always in an operational role. A steady ‘plodder’ more than a high flier he learnt his trade craft serving, and commanding, the Capital’s busiest and most challenging fire station, Brixton. Awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct he also rowed himself into the Guinness Book of Records whilst raising many thousands of pounds for charity. A talented organiser he was involved in delivering some of the London Fire Brigade’s most high-profile public events during the 1990s including royal visits and the unveiling of the national Blitz memorial by St Paul’s Cathedral. A fireman first and foremost he provides a valuable human story into the life and history of the London Fire Brigade from 1965 to the late 1990s.

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