Author Topic: Palace Fire Brigades?  (Read 3790 times)

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Offline RogerV

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Palace Fire Brigades?
« on: October 17, 2006, 08:33:51 PM »
I did a quick search and didn't find any mention of this subject, and I hope this is the appropriate place to post this question.

Does anyone know whether any of the various palaces had their own fire brigades?  I know that it was not unusual in Britain for the owners of country estates to purchase fire engines and train their male employees as volunteer firefighters.  I believe that Windsor Castle has its own fire engine and six permanently-assigned firefighters (alas, they were unable to stop the catastrophic fire of several years ago).

When you consider it, most palaces were (and are) horrific fire risks when you consider the following: 

1) Long, unobscructed halls and corridors;

2) Floors, paneling, furniture, and other woodwork polished with wax and oil for decades, if not centuries;

3) Before the electrical era, hundreds of candles and oil lamps;

4) Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces;

5) Behind all the marble and granite, wood framing and hundreds of wooden beams;

6) Tapestries and other flammable wall hangings;

7) Huge, high-ceilinged rooms providing good conditions for comubustion (lots of oxygen);

The list could go on, but I think you get the picture.  Another factor to consider was the fact that it was the end of the Imperial Era before motorized fire engines became common, giving all the more reason to have a fire engine already on the premises.  Winter conditions would make things even worse by freezing both water supplies and firefighters.

So, can anyone shed any light on this question?  Thanks very much.

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Palace Fire Brigades?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2006, 12:05:45 AM »
The Alexander Palace had its own brigade.  I have a picture of the palace fireman somewhere.  There was great concern about the water supply and storage in the palace.  The palace was jam-packed with stuff.  It was all well-sorted and packed away, but there were things that had been packed away in 1800 that were being opened for the first time in 1902.  One of the reasons the basement was built was for safe storage.  There were huge rooms down there with all sorts of stuff, kept by the owner within the family.  All the original boxes of things were down there, too.  Everything was tagged and sealed.  Lots of gifts ended up down there....

Anyway, the space under the rafters was the most dangerous and they made lots of effort there to have ready equipment, men and sand/gravel up there.  This stuff was still there before they redid the roof over the Imperial wing a few years ago,  I don't know what happened to it - probably swept away.  Maybe Arlene or Tsaria knows...