2 Pumps, 1 Aerial Wholetime.


1824? to 1900 188 High Street, EDINBURGH.
7/6/1900 to 1986 Central Fire Station, Lauriston Place, EDINBURGH.               Photo
18/4/1986 Ponton Street, Tollcross, EDINBURGH.                                    Photo


1824 to 1832 James Braidwood
1832 to 1839 James Paterson
1839 to 1846 Robert Hardie
1846 to 1849 John Wood
1849 to 1872 John Mitchell
1872 to 1876 Richard C Williams
1876 to 1895 Samuel B Wilkins
1896 to 1927 Arthur Pordage
1927 to 1941 Peter Methven (Resigned in protest about NFS (Daily Record 30/7/1941))
1941 to 1948 William Bell Muir
1948 to 1962 Alexander B Craig
1962 to 1970 Frank Rushbrook
1970 to 1980 James Anderson
1980 to 1984 William Kerr
1985 to 1989 R J Edmonds
1989 to 1994 Peter Scott
1994 to 2002 Colin Cranston
2002 to Brian Alloway






AEC Mercury/Merryweather



AEC Mercury/Merryweather Marquis



Dennis F108/Dennis



Dodge K850/Fulton & Wylie



Dodge K1113/Hestair Eagle



Dodge K1113/Hestair Eagle



Dodge G1313/HCB Angus



Dodge K2213T/Carmichael/Marius



 Dodge G1313/Carmichael



Dodge G1313/Fulton & Wylie



Dodge G13/Mountain Range



  First Second Aerial BA Van
1990 C227RSC C226RSC G39DSF  
1992 J319USC C227RSC G39DSF  
1998 L284NSC M136XSF G39DSF  
1999 R885FSC T235RFS G39DSF  
2003 SK02ULP T235RFS F986NRV  
2005 SN05JWM SK02ULP F986NRV  
2008 SN08COH SN05JWM F986NRV  
2010 SN08COH SN05JWM E750MDE  
2013 Oct SN13CVS SN08COH E750MDE  
2016 SN13CVS SN08COH SV03FBG  
10/12/2016 SN13CVS SN08COH YK16XUY  


C226RSC Dodge G13C/Alexander WrT
C227RSC Dodge G13C/Alexander WrL
E750MDE  Scania 92M-250/Angloco/Metz/DLK 30 TL
F986NRV Volvo FL6-17/Angloco/Metz DL30K TL  (Ex Hampshire F&RS)
G39DSF Dodge G16C/Carmichael/Magirus TL
J319USC Mercedes 1222/Mountain Range WrL/R
L284NSC Scania 93M-250/Emergency One WrL/ET
M136XSF Scania 93M-250/Emergency One WrT
R885FSC Scania 94D-260/Emergency One WrL/ET
T235RFS Scania 94D-260/Emergency One WrT
SK02ULP Scania 94D-260/Emergency One WrL/ET
SV03FBG Scania 94D-260/Saxon/Simon SS263/DAP HP
SN05JWM Scania 94D-260/Emergency One WrL/ET
SN08COH Scania P270/Emergency One WrL/ET
SN13CVS Scania P280/Emergency One WrL/ET
SV65OYK Scania P280/Polybilt/JDC RP
YK16XUY Volvo/Rosenbauer/Metz TL
SW66NRF Mercedes Panel Van BA Van



1703 to 1824 ?
1824 to 1870 Edinburgh Fire Engine Establishment
1870 to 1941 Edinburgh Fire Brigade
1941 to 1948 National Fire Service
1948 to 1975 South Eastern Area Fire Brigade
1975 to 2005 Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade
2005 to 2013 Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service
1/4/2013 Scottish Fire and Rescue Service






The South Eastern Fire Area Administration Scheme Order, 1948

  Equipment Wholetime
  2 Self-propelled pumps 1 Senior Company Officer
  1 Turntable Ladder 1 Company Officers
  1 Pump Escape 4 Section Leaders
  1 Salvage Tender 4 Leading Firemen
  1 Tender and Large Trailer Pump 35 Firemen & Watch Room Attendants


In 19 the Establishment at Lauriston was 1 Station Officer, 1 Sub Officer, 2 Leading Firemen and 12 Firemen per watch (4 watches).





Establishment 2000






1 Water Tender Ladder

4 Station Officers


1 Water Tender

4 Sub Officers


1 Turntable Ladder

8 Leading Firefighters



52 Firefighters

The Establishment is split over 4 watches, Red, White, Blue and Green working an average of 42 hours per week on a 2 days, 2 nights and 4 days off rota.
The first appliance is one of the two Line Rescue Units in the Brigade. (2007)

Establishment 2018






2 Rescue Pumps

5 Watch Managers


1 Turntable Ladder

15 Crew Managers ?



40 Firefighters  ?




The Establishment is split over 5 watches, Red, White, Blue, Green and Amber working an average of 42 hours per week on a 2 days, 2 nights and 4 days off rota for 7 tours then 18 days off.
The Rescue Pumps are crewed 5 and 4, the TL is crewed by 2 and the BA Van by 1 Ff.

Tollcross had a call sign of 30 in Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, this was changed to K07, the new National Call Sign on 3/5/2017.



It’s the end of an era in firefighting in central Edinburgh – and the start of a new and improved one.
The reason a £2,200,000 fire station at Tollcross replaces the cramped and outdated one at Lauriston, which opened in 1900 and which was designed with horses and horse drawn vehicles in mind.
The new building at the corner of Ponton Street and West Tollcross, is on land which had been used for years as a car park but which was formerly the site of a tram car and later bus depot.
The new premises will see Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade operations in the area well into the twenty first century. They have, in fact, been in use since last Thursday but the official opening ceremony was to be carried out only today by the Secretary of State for Scotland, Malcolm Rifkind.
And taking the change a step further, the brigade adopted a new coat of arms – two lions holding a shield bearing the words “Ready Aye Ready.” It replaces one of two thistles on a background of flames and water.
Although Tollcross fire station, which took 18 months to build, has taken over as the fire fighting base, Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade headquarters will remain at Lauriston, which is only about a quarter of a mile from the new site.
Stating the reason simply for transferring firefighting to Tollcross, Divisional Officer John Longmuir, senior staff officer, says: “We were literally trying to squeeze a quart into a pint jug at Lauriston.
“Originally designed for horses and horse drawn appliances, not the sophisticated equipment we have nowadays, the accommodation had become unsuitable because of the increase in personnel, apart from anything else.
“Out of a total staff of about 140 at Laurieston, we had 68 firemen fighting fires. The dormitory for people on the night shift was too small, there was not enough car parking space in the yard and there was no room for training. That had to be done at Liberton.”
Now all that has changed. Tollcross fire station – which has its main entrance off Ponton Street – has excellent training facilities, including a special training block with five floors and an attic level, the top two floors being laid out as a maisonette to give firemen as realistic an experience as possible of tackling difficult house fires.
This block is a particular asset of the new station.
Mr Longmuir adds: “From the day he enters the service until the day he retires, a fireman is involved in constant training.
“It covers every situation he could be expected to meet in the line of his duty. There are pump and hose drills, ladder training for fighting fires in high buildings, training in the use of breathing apparatus and rescue training, including the use of a turntable ladder.
“There is also training for fighting fires in which hazardous chemicals may be involved, as well as coping with things like road accidents, rail and plane crashes and collapsed buildings.
“A fireman’s job these days is not confined to fighting fires. That is a concept which is 50 years out of date. A fireman now is something of a Jack of all trades.
“We are equipped for, and on instant response to, any emergency whatsoever. We have to train firemen in the use of an emergency tender, which has things like cutting gear on it for releasing trapped people. It is very specialised work.
Although Lothian and Borders have no plans to do so at present, it is a situation which has prompted some brigades to alter their titles – as in Fife where the fire brigade now call themselves Fife Fire and Rescue Brigade.
Besides the training block, Tollcross fire station consists of a two storey main building which houses on the ground floor an appliance room for four appliances, a garage, the main washrooms, kit room and three offices.
On the upper floor, adjacent to West Tollcross, are the dormitories, recreation rooms, dining room and kitchen. On the same level, the Ponton Street wing contains a new fire control suite (not yet in use as control is staying meantime at Lauriston) and a fitness area.
Mr Longmuir says: “These facilities are also important for the men. It means they can keep themselves occupied – perhaps studying for examinations or having a game of snooker – during “stand down” periods at night when they are not out fighting fires.
“The fitness area has a multi-gym and is especially valuable as our men have to be extremely fit. Their bodies have to be able to switch easily from being dormant one minute to operating at their peak the next.
<PHOTO> Face, Divisional Officer John Longmuir.
“It is one of the few jobs where you can be working on your feet in extreme conditions until you fall down with exhaustion.”
Although Tollcross is an ultra-modern station, one sight familiar to most people will be the traditional poles which carry firemen from the upper level down into the appliance room.
As Mr Longmuir explains: “There is still no quicker and safer way of getting men from one floor to another. If you have them going down stairs it is slower and also raises the possibility of someone falling because they are in such a hurry.”
Once in their vehicles, firemen will have the advantage of a carefully worked out traffic control system to help them make their way through the busy city streets which surround the new station.
When the fire engine sets of, a “green wave” system is switched on which turns traffic lights to green – allowing cars to move freely so they do not hold up appliances – on routes to be followed.
This operates lights as far away as the West Approach Road, The King’s Theatre, Fountainbridge and Lauriston Place – depending on the direction in which a machine is heading.
On top of this, a “fire lane” – which operates on a contra-flow basis – now forms part of the road in Thornybank, running from directly opposite the appliance room and giving faster access to Home Street.
The road is marked similarly to a bus lane together with appropriate warning notices indicating that the lane is exclusively for the use of fire appliances.
Turnout time is the same as it was from Laurieston, with firemen able to reach anywhere in the station area within five minutes.
One thing Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade are very conscious of is the need to get on with their new neighbours at Tollcross and they are doing everything they can to minimise disturbance.
The ground floor of the Lauriston building will not be going to waste now that the firefighters have moved out.
There are plans to use the vacant space to house exhibits of the brigade museum.
These include equipment dating back to the eleventh century, currently kept at McDonald Road fire station. Mr Longmuir says, though, that this project will take “some time” to organise.
(Evening News, Friday, April 18, 1986. Page 10)


Fire – first on the scene
James Gray begins a two part report

For 162 years our brigade has been ‘ready’... 

<Photo> 2 Horse Drawn Appliances. The race is on...to save lives.
<Photo> Fire drill at the back of Lauriston.
<Photo> Another day...another job at Lauriston.
<Photo> From the “Evening News”...a report of the whisky fire at Leith when Edinburgh’s Firemaster took command.
Edinburgh’s firemen are “Ready, Aye Ready.” That’s the motto they’ve lived up to since the city formed the first municipal fire brigade in Britain in 1824 and, in their archives, some momentous fire fighting episodes are chronicled and filed away.
They were even ready when their headquarters station at Lauriston was being opened in 1900 – and smartly turned out to two calls as the official ceremonies were going on.
Now 86 years later and with the building of a new central fire station at Tollcross, Lauriston is about to end its days as an operational station.
It seems strange, however, that at its opening, no one thought to propose a toast to the work of the brigade or the dedication and courage of its firemen.
In the archives, a copy of the official lunch menu records toasts only to the Queen, the council’s buildings and works committee, the architect and contractors, and the Lord Provost.
The following year Lauriston was brought into action for their first major blaze – down in Leith, which then had its own fire service.
It was at a bonded warehouse owned by Melrose-Drover, a five storey building at the corner of Mitchell Street and Elbe Street. Inside were 4500 gallons of whisky.
The Leith brigade decided to get assistance and, according to reports, Edinburgh’s Firemaster “Mr Arthur Pordage and his men were not long in appearing” with two detachments from Lauriston.
“As it happened, the Firemaster of Leith was on holiday and Firemaster Pordage, with the cordial approval of several members of Leith Town Council, took charge of the operations.”
An offer, I suppose, they couldn’t refuse.
Many more spectacular and costly blazes have followed. There was a £10,000 fire at the George Street shop of James Gray & Son in 1902. And in 1929 one officer was killed and £100,000 damage caused at a fire in the Central Arcade Company’s bazaar and store which then occupied the corner of South Bridge and Chambers Street.
In the same year a grain warehouse in Leith Docks was destroyed at a cost of £350,000 which the then Firemaster termed “one of the worst fires in the history of the city.”
But on Hogmanay 1935, fire broke out in the New Waverley Hotel, in Waterloo Place, in which three women – a bookkeeper and two maids – lost their lives.
And, in the following year, every fireman in Edinburgh was in action to tackle a blaze at the British Ropes’ Edinburgh Roperie and Sailcloth Company in Leith. It burnt out a quarter mile of buildings, and six miles of hoseline was used by the firefighters in their efforts to put out the flames.
The years of the Second World War, with German bombing raids on Edinburgh, added to the work of firefighting. They also attended plane crashes – 13 in 1943, with the loss of 22 lives; eight in 1944, with ten deaths; and three in 1945 in which seven lives were lost.
Of the fires caused by enemy action, one of the worst was on September 29, 1940, when a 500lb bomb fell on Duff Street – at 5-15am.
“As a result of the explosion and the fire which followed,” it is recorded, “a five storey bonded store belonging to the Distillers Company was wholly destroyed and many tenements in Duff Street, Springwell Place and Downfield Place badly damaged.
“It took 30 appliances and 148 firemen…to deal with this fire as a result of which 135 families were evacuated and 50 had to be rehoused.
“Among the many odd incidents associated with this fire was one in which a large cask of whisky, blown out of the store by the explosion, crashed through a tenement roof and came to rest on a table, still half full of blazing spirits!”
In more recent times, 1955 turned out to be a bad year and busy year.
Another bonded warehouse, this time owned by Hill Thomson and Co, in Water Street, Leith, was destroyed; C & A’s store in Princes Street went on fire with half a million pounds worth of damage, and, simultaneously, there was a £250,000 blaze at a wholesale footwear store in Jeffery Street.
Though fire engines will no longer race forth from Lauriston, the red sandstone building (it cost £43,000 to build in 1900) will still remain as the control room nerve centre of the Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade for at least two more years.
There are also plans to turn it into the city’s fire museum in which the machines and equipment of bygone years will link with those firefighting episodes I found filed away in the archives.
(Evening News, Tuesday, April 22, 1986. Page 8)


The one thing they won’t let go? The pole! 

<Photo> Checking the equipment…a vital role at Tollcross
Firefighting has become a more dangerous and complex occupation since the days when Edinburgh recruited 80 men to form Britain’s first municipal fire brigade.
The invention of new chemicals and explosives, poly and plastic substances and other volatile materials has added to the hazards faced by today’s firefighters.
Unlike their predecessors, who used to turn out at 4am to drill in the High Street, many hours are now spent in lecture rooms learning how to combat a vast range of potentially high risk products from liquefied petroleum gas to polyurethane foam.
From the early days of lumbering fire carts and horse drawn engines, the modern engine with its complex equipment weighs around nine tons – thanks to today’s emergencies every ounce is needed, as well as every second saved in getting there.


The logistics of firefighting in the eighties have, if fact, become so sophisticated that on the ground floor of Edinburgh’s new £2,200,000 station at Tollcross, there’s a little glass fronted fire alarm box to smash – just in case fire started in the station itself.
At first sight it seems an unnecessary addition to the furnishings – with a squad of firemen and firefighting equipment already there on the spot. But fire stations have their hazards, too – with banks of oxygen cylinders and full tanks of fuel in the waiting fire engines.
It’s all a question, say today’s firemen, of practicing what they preach. Breaking the little glass box in an emergency gives early warning to those who might be trapped on the first floor.
Outside the front door, an emergency “999” telephone linked to the control room has also been installed for those living or working nearby . . . . for use when the station’s fire engines are out in action elsewhere.
You can’t describe the house fires of today as “ordinary” events.
“At one time, when you were tackling a blaze inside, you could judge from the smoke how toxic and dangerous it might be,” says station officer John Gray.
“Sometimes you got a warning. Like feeling lightheaded. Nowadays a room can be quite clear, no worse, perhaps, than a room where people have smoked cigarettes. Yet one whiff can be deadly.
“Bystanders often wonder why we’re wearing oxygen masks in a house where there’s no great amount of smoke.
“Because of the possibility of toxic fumes, the wearing of breathing apparatus has now become standard practice, whether or not there’s any appreciable volume of smoke.”
The oxygen cylinders used by firemen last for around half an hour, depending on circumstances, and they are checked at the beginning of each shift, along with other equipment. . . .
Edinburgh’s first firemen drilled at 4am because they combined firefighting with their ordinary jobs. Now firemen at full time stations, like Tollcross, work a four day week – two on day shift and two on nights.
The modern requirements of the job have eliminated many of the old practices, such as the cleaning of brass. Now, apart from lectures and practical training, firemen are also employed in fire prevention.
One notion they quickly dispel is that a wet towel offers protection from smoke. It doesn’t. Though the wearer might gain some confidence, they will still breathe in toxic fumes.
Each fire has a lesson to pass on. One of which is still remembered is the one which followed an explosion at the Burn Grange Oil Shale Mine at West Calder in 1947, in which 15 lives were lost.
The fire raged 450 feet down and, although not trained for such occurrences, the firemen descended with breathing apparatus. After a time, they were persuaded to hand over their sets to colliery workers who had more knowledge of the workings and stood more chance of locating the 15 missing miners.


Firefighting, and the sealing off of 22 roadways, went on for four days before the area could be penetrated and the bodies recovered.
It is one of the many serious incidents which have since led to fire presentation legislation covering factories, offices, shops and almost all buildings to which the public have access.
There is now a computer “file” of hazards that might be encountered if a factory or buildings goes on fire, or a tanker carrying chemicals crashes.
In the control room, the name of the chemical is keyed into the computer and firemen are given guidance on what special clothing or equipment might be needed.
For all that expertise there is one tried and trusty method remaining. Firemen, even in the most modern fire stations, still slide down to their engines on a pole
(Evening News, Wednesday, April 23, 1986. Page 8)




If you know of any mistakes in this or have any additional information please let me know.


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