Fire Service sheds light on its historical heroes to promote Heritage Day

Bradford’s City Hall will be throwing open its doors to the public as part of the national Heritage Open Days on Saturday September 9.

West Yorkshire Fire Service (WYFRS) has a fair few heroes among its ranks today, but will be joining forces with the Council to shed a light on the brigade’s historical heroes.

The Fire Service is loaning medals from former Chief Fire Officer James Scott, one of the heroes from the explosion at Low Moor Chemical Company where 40 died and more than 100 were injured.  Other medals on display are from the Council’s museums service.

Chris Smith, who works for WYFRS and is a keen historian, will be launching his new book, ‘A History of Bradford City Fire Brigade’ at the Open Day.

He said: “The book lifts the lid on 200 years of the Fire Service in Bradford at a time of major mill blazes and enigmatic leaders, namely Chief Fire Office of the day, James Scott.”

James was the great, great uncle of Sue Smith, who works for the Council’s estate management.

Sue said: “All the family are proud of James and his heroism.

“As a fireman he risked his life on several occasions but on that day his bravery, and that of all the other firemen and members of the public surpassed anything imaginable in the face of such horrific circumstances.” James survived the fatal explosion and lived to a ripe old age.

Bradford Council leader, Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “We’re really grateful to the Fire Service for letting us display the medals of this local hero on this important open day.

“City Hall is a wonderful building.  Whether its architecture you are interested in, stained glass, the banqueting hall, the silver collections or you want to look at the much-filmed court where justice was dispensed under the Town Hall clock, it really is a fascinating visit.

“City Hall will be open from 10am to 4pm on September 9 and entry is free.  It’s a building that belongs to all of us so it’s great to have a day when everyone can come in and have a look round.”

There will be a display all about the Low Moor events of August 21st 1916 including some of the rare medals received in recognition of heroic acts by sons and daughters of Bradford.

WYFRS Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “We are really pleased to support the National Heritage Open Day and we hope people will take the opportunity to come and learn a little about the history of the Bradford City Fire Brigade.

“In the Fire Service we are privileged to hear about the heroic acts of our staff quite often, because encountering danger at fires or other incidents is part of the job. But this is a chance for everyone to come and tell the tales of heroics in their own family history.”

During the day the public will be encouraged to share stories about heroes in their own families who have received medals, certificates of commendation or press coverage and the unsung ones who have never had any acknowledgment of their acts of heroism.