Glimpse into incredible fire photo archives as number reaches two million

Some incredible never seen before photos have been released by fire service staff as the number of archived pictures reaches two million.

1960's FSHQ Birkenshaw

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has opened its vault of pictures to give people an insight into some of the incredible photos taken over the last 150 years. The images are being revealed as WYFRS undergoes an incredible modernisation with a development to include a state-of-the art urban search and rescue training centre. The new sustainable headquarters, training centre and fire station will ensure firefighter learning in West Yorkshire is future proof.

The service’s photographer Ken Wilkinson said they still have some archived photos on negatives that have never been converted to pictures. “Our archive of pictures has now topped an incredible two million and we have taken this opportunity to have a look back over some of the most iconic and dramatic photos we have,” said Ken.
“Most of our photographs are in picture format, but there are still some that have been left as negatives, and they are just waiting to be converted. We wanted to celebrate this landmark number of photos by revealing some of the most dramatic and interesting ones we have.”

Photos that have been revealed show pictures which range from Leeds firefighters on a two-horse drawn pump in the 1880s, up to fiery pictures of a corn field fire this summer in the hot weather.

Ken, who worked as a coal miner before joining WYFRS, said: “I’ve been with the fire service for 25 years and have photographed some incredible incidents and events. I’m also pleased to have built up a great working relationship with the media as well. As a photographer and videographer, who can get close to an incident, there have been a number of times that newspaper photographers and TV crews have handed their cameras to me. They know that I can often get them those dramatic, up-close pictures that they aren’t able to do themselves due to fire safety rules.

“We are thrilled to be able to reveal some of our archived photos at a time when the service is going through an incredible modernisation programme. These old images show just how far we have come as a service thanks to our determination to constantly move forward – this is something that will never change and we are excited about entering a new era as a fire service.”