Extraordinary Photos of Women Fire-Fighters in Britain During WW2

21st June 1942: Members of the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Services), attached to the Army Fire Service, give a demonstration of their fire-fighting skills. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

On Friday June 10 1938, over a year before the beginning of WW2, the London Fire Brigade announced that they were appealing for volunteers for the London Auxiliary Fire Service. In case of war they were looking for 30,000 volunteers. Most asking for the new recruiting forms were men but many came from women and children. It was felt that in an emergency women volunteers would take on the clerical work and control posts while boys, and it was only boys who were mentioned, would take on the role of keeping contact between the various observation posts. Overalls and uniforms were to be supplied and the training would take two hours a week at any fire station.

The Picture Post magazine in May 1939 reported that the Women’s Auxiliary have two key jobs in fire-fighting. One is to drive the private cars that will take officials or reserve A.F.S. men to and from big outbreaks. These cars can also tow the trailer pumps, each with its own engine. The article also stated that the second key job which the Women’s Auxiliary will take over completely in war-time if recruiting reaches the levels expected is the staffing fo the watch rooms in all fire-stations.

2nd May 1941: New recruits in the control room at London’s Auxiliary Fire Service. (Photo by Fred Morley/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Ad from 1938

27th October 1939: A member of the AFS with a long line of wellington boots during a morning inspection at a Manchester fire-station. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Women volunteers, before they were issued with uniforms, inspected by A.N.G. Firebrace chief officer of London’s Fire Brigade,  on Clapham Common, October 1938

Ad from May 1939

29th October 1942: Women recruited for volunteer fire guard duties who are fully trained in fire fighting techniques. Eleanor Isaac and Iris Seaby are working the left hose while Lydia Morris and Emily Johnson tackle the right. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

29th October 1942: Women recruited for volunteer fire guard duties, who are fully trained in fire fighting techniques, putting the hose away in the portable trailer. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

A.F.S. Gold Flake ad from November 1939


1942: Volunteer women firefighters running with hoses during a demonstration of their skills. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

1940: Women from the Auxiliary Fire Service at work in the London Fire Regional Control Room, where the mobilising of fire appliances is carried out by means of maps. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

1st December 1938: A woman modelling the new Fire Service uniform. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

22nd September 1939: Miss Bampton modelling as a Auxiliary Fire Servicewoman on the telephone. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

12th September 1939: A group of Auxiliary Fire Service women keeping fit with a game of leap-frog. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

16th February 1942: Female civil servants demonstrate the correct stance for holding a fire hose during training at the Imperial War Museum Fire Fighting School. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

30th November 1939: A woman of the Auxiliary Fire Service eating Christmas pudding. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

11th March 1940: Three members of the women’s forces, two ATS (Army)(Auxiliary Territorial Service) girls and a member of the WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service) share a couch in front of the fire in the sitting room of a club for ‘Women in the Services’ in Chelsea, London. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

circa 1940: A member of the London branch of the Auxiliary Fire Service wearing her uniform and saluting. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

March 1942: US soldiers sit arm-in-arm with AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) girls in a London square. (Photo by Warburton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

29th September 1939: Members of the Auxiliary Fire Service rehearse their act for the Concert Party organised at their station. (Photo by Gerry Cranham/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

27th September 1939: Model Muriel Oxford pulls the lever of an emergency fire alarm, whilst modelling a high-waisted dress with a matching turban. (Photo by Baron/Getty Images)

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