The history of a fire station

WHEN Dave Swallow was appointed station manager for both Mossley and Stalybridge fire stations 18 months ago, it was an emotional moment.

Dave, a firefighter since 2001, was following on from his father Steve who was station commander – the equivalent of station manager – at Mossley Fire Station.

“I was inspired to become a firefighter by my dad. I have a photo of me about 18 months old sat on an appliance,” he said.

Steve, who retired in 2006 after 36 years’ service, was in charge at Mossley at the time the station moved from Bottom to Top Mossley in 1988-89.

And around that time Steve produced a booklet The History of Mossley Fire Brigade following painstaking research and many hours spent at Ashton Library trawling through local newspapers.

In the days before Mossley had a fire station they were served by neighbouring Stalybridge.

But in 1909 Stalybridge Town Council instructed their firefighters not to attend fires in Mossley.

They never refused but in that era bills were submitted to the unfortunate fire loss victims in Mossley.

And in the early part of 1912 following a number of serious fires the people of Mossley and mill owners pressurised Mossley Town Council to establish its own fire brigade.

And in April 1913 Mossley’s first fire station opened on Manchester Road, Bottom Mossley, at a cost of £3,600 which had been borrowed from the Government.

The initial engine was a Morris Turbine which carried a 50ft wooden escape ladder.

It was in March 1914 that Mossley’s firefighters tackled their first serious blaze at Greenfield Mill.

In the 106 years since the first fire station was opened the station has experienced tragedy as there has been three firefighter fatalities.

The first was in 1937 when a fireman was killed en route to a blaze when he was knocked off the running board of the appliance by a baulk of timber carried on a lorry passing in the opposite direction.

In 1955 a fireman was killed tackling a serious fire at Wellington Mills, Greenfield, and in 1971 another perished at Texas Mill, Ashton.

The move to a new purpose-built fire station came 75 years after the initial one was opened.

They moved in February 1988 but the new station did not become fully operational until mid-1989.

In the 30 years since the move, last summer’s moorland fires were described as the worst for a generation.

Steve remembered one other major moorland blaze in 2006 when they spent 36 days tackling.

And Steve helped form the Peak District Fire Operation Group which is made up of the six county fire services that cover the national park.

Steve was the lead officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue on the group and son Dave, 36, has taken over that role.

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