?                                                         Louden Street
?                                                         Mill Street
?                                                         Police Headquarters (Anderson St/Wellwynd 1950)


1866? to July 1918                            Local Businessman ?
July 1918 ?                                        Chief Constable of the Burgh
1921                                                    Captain Christie



1866?                                                 Hand Reel
?                                                         Wheelbarrow
?                                                         Horse Drawn Fire Engine
1918                                                   Motor Fire Engine (Braidwood style)
1938                 AVD309                   Dennis Light 6 Limosine                                    SP





In its infancy, the Burgh Fire Brigade possessed a wheel barrow appliance only. The Firemaster was Mr. Wyllie, a Local business man, whose firemen were his regular employees. Later, a horse drawn steam pump fire engine was acquired and a proper fire station occupied in Louden Street. The horses that drew the engine were two black Belgian Horses supplied on demand by W. Paterson & Son, Funeral Undertakers, who also supplied the Cabbie.
The old fashioned general method of calling the members of the Brigade to action from their homes or place of business was discontinued, and electric alarm bells were installed in their homes.
Later a Fire Station was opened in Mill Street and finally at Police Headquarters.
A more modern organisation was obtained when the Burgh appointed in 1918 Chief Constable/Captain Christie to be Firemaster of the Burgh. In return he selected Police Officers and civilians for the Brigade.
                Captain/Firemaster Christie                Firemaster
                Deputy                                                   Police Inspector
                Lieutenants                                           One Police Sergeant
                                                                                One civilian
                Drivers                                                   Police Officers (Mechanics)
                                                                                24 hour Call.
                Crew                                                       Police and selected Part time Civilians. 

In 1919 the first Motor Fire Engine was purchased – a Dennis Fire Engine with solid tyres; one stage 500 pump; Braidwood Body.
The Engine was housed in a three bay garage at Police Headquarters and fronted on Wellwynd opposite the Police Library. The garage housed, one fire engine, one Daimler Ambulance and a Police Traffic Vehicle.
The Crews had one drill night every week and were responsible for fires not only in Airdrie, but also covered Blackridge, East Lothian.
In 1938 a new Dennis Fire Engine was bought. It had a two stage centrefugal pump passing 750 to 1,000 g.p.m.
Firemaster Christie had retired and his place was filled by Firemaster/Chief Constable Turner. The manning crews were on similar lines as previously.
1938 was the birth of the Auxiliary Fire Service and the Burgh soon enrolled approximately 100 recruits who carried out their training in a disused factory in Cairnhill Road.
A gradual build of Emergency Vehicles went on during this period and when war was declared in September, 1939, the strength of the Brigade was 20 full time men and 60 part time A.F.S. men under the Command of Mr. J. Taylor (an experienced Burgh Fireman).
Additional appliances had been supplied by the Government, mostly trailer pumps which were towed by part time lorries and vans supplied by local tradesmen.
An additional station was necessary to house all this new equipment and premises in Soline Street, Coatdyke was brought into use.
The A.F.S. War Time Stations did not attend fires. The Police/Civilian Brigade continued to operate from Police Headquarters at Wellwynd using the Dennis Appliance to tow a Standard Gwynne Pump. This crew, under the Firemaster, attended all fires.
This position continued until the formation of the National Fire Service on 18th August, 1941, when the Police ceased to be responsible for fire cover within the Burgh.



Shortly after Airdrie became a Burgh in 1821 the local Fire Brigade was formed and was run by a local business man and 6 of his employees. The Brigade acted under the authority of the Town Council. Their only equipment was a wheel barrow appliance including a manual pump.
In 1859 the Town Council appointed a Committee known as the Fire and Lighting Committee. This Committee was responsible for seeing that a properly equipped Brigade was maintained and at this time the Brigade came under the control of the Police and was comprised of 6 Firemen, supervised by a Police Superintendent.
One of the first duties of the newly appointed Committee was to purchase the following items of equipment:-
7 new plugs; 2 stop cocks, a hose reel and 350 feet of hose with nozzles etc.,
this being deemed to be all the necessary requisites for furnishing a complete Fire Brigade.

In 1866 the Fire and Lighting Committee reviewed the strength of the Fire Brigade and decided that six tradesmen such as Slaters etc., be added to the Brigade bringing the total strength to 12 Firemen.
Since this increase in strength of the Fire Brigade would be almost entirely in favour of Insurance Companies it was agreed to ascertain if such Companies would be disposed to contribute towards the institution and maintenance of the additional men. This suggestion did not receive favourable consideration, however, as only two Companies indicated that they would be willing to lend assistance. The matter was not further pursued. The Fire and Lighting Committee, however, took into consideration the tear and wear of fire appliances used in extinguishing fires and agreed to make a charge against Insurance Companies and others when hoses were used in this connection. Insurance Companies were not always disposed to meet the cost of the Fire Brigade, and consequently, the Superintendent received instructions not to lend any assistance nor to permit the fire extinguishing apparatus to attend any fires where the property was insured with Insurance Companies who had defaulted in payment.
In 1870 it was reported to the Fire and Lighting Committee that the weight of the present fire barrow was so great that the constables and others assisting to drag the same to a fire were exhausted before they arrived at the scene of action. In consequence of this report, the Committee resolved to inspect machines with a view to ascertaining whether it was possible to suggest any improvement thereon. They were of opinion that the present apparatus was far too heavy and unhandy and there being no means of applying horse power when the machines required to go any distance necessarily a considerable amount of time was lost in reaching a fire as well as men being exhausted. It was thereon agreed that a machine be constructed, as large as possible, from the materials of the present barrows to be drawn by horse power and to carry the whole hose as well as 6 men.
The failure of Insurance Companies to pay charges for extinguishing fires within the Burgh continue to be a source of trouble and the Fire and Lighting Committee agreed that charges for extinguishing fires should be made against the owners of the property where the fire takes place and this was to be done in terms of Clause 346 of the General Police and Improvement Act, 1862.
In 1876 we now find that the Government Inspector for the Police objected to the Fire Brigade being associated with the Police Force, and consequently, a separate Fire Brigade was formed at this time and came under the control of a civilian Superintendent. On the appointment of this new Superintendent there was some development in fire brigade duty as it was agreed that the whole Brigade should occasionally turn out for drill. The allowances to be paid to Firemen for pay, drills etc., was £2 per annum which was to include all remuneration with the exception of allowances for attendance at fires.
With a view to improving the efficiency of the Brigade the Fire and Lighting Committee decided in 1880 that the Superintendent should make an inventory of the articles belonging to the Brigade and to have the members properly organised. At the same time they inspected the fire extinguishing apparatus. At this time the Brigade consisted of the Superintendent, a Lieutenant and 7 Firemen. Two of the firemen had to attend the engine house every Wednesday to clean up the helmets etc., and the whole of the Brigade met at the Station on the first Wednesday of each month for two hours for drill. Things did not run particularly smoothly with the Brigade, however, and in 1883 all the members of the Brigade, except the Captain and Lieutenant resigned, and their resignations were accepted. Following upon this mass resignation 10 other men were appointed to the Brigade at the salary of £2 per annum each, 2/- for each turn out at a fire and 1/- per hour while engaged at a fire with payment of 3/- to the fireman who arrived first at the engine house properly equipped.
In 1887 there was introduced an attendance register wherein each member of the Brigade signed his name after returning to the engine room from a fire.
In 1891 we find a slight trace of trade unionism penetrating the Brigade as at this time the Superintendent reported that his men had declined to fix the couplings on to 100 yards of canvas hose pipes as they had plenty to do repairing old hoses. This and similar matters was to be communicated to the convener of the Fire and Lighting Committee for appropriate action.
In 1892 we find that a new Superintendent of the Fire Brigade was appointed at a salary of £12 per annum and the usual fees for services at fires.
In 1894 the rates of pay of the Fire Brigade members as retaining fees:—
                Captain                                  £12
                Lieutenant                             £  4
                Firemen                                  £  3 each, all per annum. 

In 1887 the Fire Brigade turned out and took part in a procession on the occasion of the opening of a public park and also at the procession on Life Boat Saturday. This was the first instance of the Fire Brigade taking part in any public processions.
In 1907 there was put into effect a practice call to test the efficiency of the Brigade. This seemingly was an innovation. Following upon this test call it was decided to ascertain if it would be possible for at least six members of the Brigade to reside in the vicinity of the Fire Station, but on enquiry being made none of the members was willing to reside in houses in the immediate vicinity of the station.
Following upon this refusal it was agreed that firemen’s houses and the garage hirer’s premises be connected with a system of electric bells and such a system was installed at a cost of £64. There was also installed at this time a private line between the Police Office and Fire Brigade Station.
In 1910 the first discussion concerning amalgamation of Airdrie Fire Brigade with Coatbridge and the County Council to provide a Fire Station and up-to-date appliances at Coatdyke to serve both Burghs and the County as far south as Bellshill took place. After this question bad been fully discussed, it was decided not to proceed with this scheme of amalgamation.
About this time the Committee considered the question as to what districts the Brigade should be allowed to go to on the outbreak of fire when it was agreed to fix a radius of 5 miles.
In 1912 it was suggest that a fire siren should be erected for the purpose of calling the firemen in the case of a fire occurring within the Burgh, but the Committee could not see their way to recommending the erection of such a siren.
There was little change in the set up of the Fire Brigade from then until 1918 when the Chief Constable was appointed Firemaster and it was agreed that the whole subject should be fully gone into and a report obtained from an expert on steps which should be taken to provide a more efficient Brigade.
The control of the Fire Brigade at this time came under the Police Force and a Police Sergeant was appointed as Deputy Firemaster while a Police Constable was appointed as fire engine driver.
The Fire and Lighting Committee visited various places and inspected fire appliances at Glasgow and. Paisley and other places and it was then decided that Airdrie would require to take steps to see that a more efficient Fire Brigade was provided. In consequence of this it was agreed that a 45 H.P. 300/350 gallons turbine motor pump as supplied by Messrs. Dennis Brothers Ltd., should be purchased. The Committee agreed that in addition a 35 ft. extension ladder, a first aid tank and equipment should also be purchased. At this time it was necessary to make application to the Minister of Munitions for a priority certificate to enable the fire engine to be purchased with as little delay as possible.
The Firemaster reported on the question of re-organisation of the Brigade and recommended that it be reconstituted and the following appointments made:-
                Firemaster                                                              £25 per annum
                Police Sergeant (Deputy Firernaster)                £10:8/- per annum
                Lieutenant                                                             £8 per annum
                6 Firemen                                                               3/- each per week
                One Motorman & Attendant (Part time)          £26 per annum 

On 8th August, 1919 the new fire engine and equipment was duly delivered at a total cost of £1,193.
At this time the Firemaster was given full power with regard to the engagement and dismissal of members of the fire brigade staff.
In 1931 a suggestion was put forward by the Professional Fire Brigades Association that Municipal Fire Brigades should be nationalised. At this time the Committee agreed to take no action.
In 1932 it was felt that the fire engine should be supplemented by some other mechanical means of assistance and it was agreed that Morris Major Motor Car be purchased for the use of the Police Force and the Fire Brigade and that one third of the cost be charged to the Fire Brigade.
In 1936 the Firemaster’s salary was raised to £50 per annum this being the first increase in salary since 1919.
In 1937 when war clouds began to loom in the distance, it was decided that members of the Fire Brigade with 12 additional auxilliary firemen should be trained in anti gas measures. At this time the question of strengthening fire brigades for emergency purposes, the purchase of additional appliances and recruitment of additional personnel was considered when having regard to the fire risks in Airdrie. It was estimated to give adequate coverage 45 auxilliary firemen in addition to the present standing brigade would have to be enrolled. This matter was continued.
At this time it was agreed to purchase a British Dennis 6 Cylinder Motor Fire engine at a cost of £1200 and the old fire engine was overhauled and was in reasonable good working order.
On 9th January, 1939 the Air Precautions Scheme Emergency Fire Brigade Organisation was brought into operation and the regular Fire Brigade was supplemented by 75 auxilliary firemen.
On 11th December, 1939 it was agreed that a mutual assistance scheme be formed with Coatbridge, Motherwell and Wishaw and the County of Lanark.

On 11th November, 1940 in accordance with the requirements of the Home Office and Scottish Home Department, conveyed through the Fire Brigade Commision the Firemasters of Airdrie, Coatbridge, Motherwell and Wishaw Burghs and the County Council Fire Brigade met at the County Buildings, Hamilton on 1st November, 1940 to consider if a suitable scheme of mutual assistance in terms of Section 1(5) of the Fire Brigades Act, 1938 and the Fire Brigades (Scottish Regional) No. 2 Order which could be applied in war time as well as in peace time. It was agreed that in the event of a serious fire or fires occurring which could not be dealt with by the resources of his own Brigade, the Chief Officer of the Brigade requiring assistance should first call for assistance from the other Brigades in the Mutual Assistance Agreement and in the event of the situation becoming such that such additional assistance was required, he should notify the Area Officer and the procedure as laid down by the same Fire Brigade (Scottish Regional) No. 2 Order would immediately come into operation.
The resources of Airdrie Fire Brigade is as follows:-
1 Dennis Motor Pump complete with 2,500 canvas delivery hose; 1 foam branch pipe; 16 gallons of foam and 1 set of breathing apparatus.
In 1941 the National Fire Service (General Regulations) came into operation, the effect of which was to transfer from Local Authorities to the Secretary of State as from the appointed day full responsibility for the administration of the Fire Services and as the appointed day was fixed as Monday, 18th August, 1941, the Airdrie Fire Brigade was thereon transferred to the National Fire Service and cease to exist as a separate unit.
(Type from an article in File TD1431/46/2 at the Mitchell Library.)


1923        Captain Christie was Chief Constable of Airdrie Burgh Police Force which at this time doubled as the Ambulance and Fire Service. The Fire Engine and Ambulance were in a building adjoining the Police Station in Anderson Street. The building was originally the home of the Governor of Airdrie Jail, which itself was converted to form the Police Station.
(Caption from photo of Captain Christie in Airdrie Library)



Of the Burgh Fire Brigade it can be said that the efficiency of this service was greatly increased by the wisdom of the local authority, when, in July, 1918, they decided to hand over the control of the Brigade to the reigning Chief Constable of the Burgh.
In its infancy, the local Brigade had possessed a wheelbarrow appliance only, and the Firemaster was a local business man whose firemen were his regular employees. Later, a horsedrawn fire engine appliance was acquired and a proper fire station occupied in Louden Street. At the same time other moves were made to increase its efficiency. The old fashioned general method of calling the members of the Brigade to action from their homes or place of business was discontinued, and electric alarm bells were installed in their homes. Another Fire Station was opened in Mill Street, and another finally at Police Headquarters; a more modern organisation was finally obtained in 1918, when, the Service was handed over to the control of the Chief Constable, who introduced an up to date motor fire engine and attached a number of the Police for part-time Fire Brigade duties.
The personnel of the Fire Brigade now numbered about 12, half being from the police and the other half being tradesmen employed locally.
On the outbreak of the Second World War, the Chief Constable, as Firemaster, had the additional responsibility of forming an Auxiliary Fire Service as part of the Civil Defence Organisation, but in August, 1941, he was deprived of this office, when under a general Government Order, the National Fire Service, as it became known later, became a Service of its own, as it has continued ever since.
(The Book of Airdrie 1954. Page 101.)







Printed by John Craig, 42 and 44 South Bridge Street.







1.             When an alarm of fire is given, the Engine or Hand Reel is to be immediately despatched to the spot, taking care that none of the apparatus is omitted.

2.             The Captain on arriving at the fire must use every effort to supply the Engine with water, taking care to place the Engine with sufficient space on all sides to work it effectually, and as little in the way of persons carrying out furniture as possible. He must also examine the premises on fire while the men are fixing the hose, that he may be enabled to direct the water with the best effect.

3.             The Engine and apparatus must be at all times in good order, and the Captain must report to the Fire and Lighting Committee when any part of the apparatus requires repair.


1.             When an alarm of fire is given the whole company of Firemen shall assemble as speedily as possible at the Engine-House, and assist in getting everything ready for service. Each Fireman must be at the Engine House within a quarter of an hour after the alarm of fire is given, between the hours of nine at night and six in the morning, and between six in the morning and nine at night within one hour, or the pay for turning out shall be forfeited. The Captain may do away with the forfeiture on a satisfactory reason being given.

2.             Any man destroying his equipments or wearing them when off duty, shall be punished with a fine, or dismissal, as the Captain may determine. Careless conduct, irregular attendance, or insubordination, shall be punished as before mentioned.

3.             The Fireman who arrives first at the Engine House, properly equipped, will receive 3/- in addition to his pay for turning out. No pay shall be allowed for a false alarm, unless the same be given by an officer of police.

4.             The Firemen must be careful to take no directions from any person, but refer them to their Captain; they are also particularly directed not to accept of spirituous liquors from any individual. The Captain will see them properly supplied with refreshments. Every appearance of intoxication will be marked, and any man found in that state shall not only forfeit his allowance for the turn out and duty performed, but shall he dismissed from the service.

5.             All concerned are strictly enjoined not to lose temper, and on no occasion whatever to give offence to the inhabitants by uncivil language or otherwise. Every man who may be dismissed from the establishment, or who may resign his situation, shall, before he leaves the service, deliver up all articles of equipment that were supplied to him.

6.             The Firemen will assemble for drill and instruction once every month. Two men will be told off by rotation to attend Fire Engine House and clean apparatus once each week. In the event of a man being unable to turn out at weekly cleaning, he must find a substitute from the Brigade.





The Engine, with Captain and the first six men who may arrive, shall in all cases proceed to the fire.


Retaining Fee of Superintendent, £13 per annum; allowance for turn-out, 3/- and 1/6 per hour.

Retaining Fee of Lieutenant, £5 per annum ; allowance for turn-out, 2/6 and 1/3 per hour.

Retaining Fee of Fireman, £4 per annum; allowance for turn-out, 2/- and 1/- per hour.

2/- for each drill between the hours of four and six in the morning, or at any such times as the Fire and Lighting Committee shall determine. Minimum drills, 6 each year.





1.             The words Fire Engine House, in large painted or raised letters, shall be placed on one or more prominent parts of the Engine House.

2.             The Captain and Firemen must reside as near to the Engine House as possible.

3.             A list of the names of Captain and Firemen belonging to the Fire Engine Establishment shall be hung in a conspicuous place in the Police Office.

4.             As it may be necessary to break open the doors of houses and shops to prevent fire from spreading, it is recommended that those in possession of premises in the neighbourhood shall not go away after a fire has been discovered without leaving their keys, else the doors of their premises will be broken open if required.

5.             All possessors of shops, &c., are particularly requested to have the place of residence painted upon their shop-doors, that notice may be sent to them when necessary.


1.             Whenever a watchman discovers fire, he must instantly call the neighbouring watchman to his assistance, and adopt the readiest means to inform the proprietors or tenants of what has occurred. He shall also send notice to the Office. The watchman who is despatched to give these intimations, when exhausted by running shall send forward the first watchman whom he meets; and, lest the second messenger fail to communicate the information correctly, the former must always follow him to the place of destination.

2.             When a notice of fire is received at the Office, the officer on duty shall instantly give notice to the Captain of the Fire Brigade, and to the Superintendent of Police; and, should the fire be serious, he shall also send notice to the nearest Bailie, the Convener of the Fire and Lighting Committee, and Manager of the Gas Company.

3.             If any watchman suspect the existence of fire, he shall immediately summon his neighbour watchman, and station him as near as possible to the premises, to be in readiness to give the alarm should it break out; this being done, the said watchman shall proceed to the Police Office and report the circumstances to the officer on duty; the latter shall instantly call out the Captain and one of the firemen to examine the premises; the watchman must accompany them to the spot, in order that he may be ready to call out the Engine if it be found necessary.

4.             Any watchman receiving orders to turn out the Firemen, shall immediately give notice to his neighbour watchman, and return to his station for the purpose of turning out any Firemen that may reside in it.

5.             When a fire occurs, the superior officer on duty at the office shall, without delay, send a party of men under the command of an officer to the spot, and shall repair there himself as soon after as possible.

6.             The above party on arriving at the fire shall clear off the crowd, and keep open space and passages for the Firemen and others employed.

7.             The officer commanding this party shall attend to no instructions but those he shall receive from the Senior Magistrate who may be on the spot; or should there be no Magistrate on the spot, then from the Convener or other member of the Fire and Lighting Committee.

8.             In cases of protracted fire the Superintendent shall select a sufficient number of able-bodied men to relieve those employed at the engine, who shall be changed every ten minutes, and receive such refreshments as he shall think necessary. He shall also take down their names, or give them a ticket to be produced to the Captain of the Fire Brigade before being paid for their services.

9.             It shall be the duty of the Superintendent of Police to see that the above instructions and the list containing the names and residences of the Firemen are placed in the hands of each Constable, in order that he may be able to turn them out when required.

10.         The Superintendent of Police or Officer on duty at any fire shall fix a place where all goods removed for protection shall be deposited, and shall station a proper watch there till it is found convenient to remove them.

11.           One or more Policemen shall attend upon the Chief Magistrate and Members of Committee. One Policeman shall constantly attend the Captain of the Fire Brigade.

12.           The Superintendent of Police shall always have a list of extra Policemen hung up in the Police Office, who when fire occurs may be called out if necessary for the purpose of attending there, and rendering assistance where it may be required.


                                                                Approved of by the Fire and Lighting Committee.

                                                                                                                JOHN EWART, Convener.






For use of Fire Engine beyond the Burgh—First hour,                 £2 10 0

Every succeeding hour                                                                         0 10 0

Washing and Cleaning Hose after Fire                                               1  0 0

Any damage done to the Engine, Hose, or other Apparatus, to be charged in addition as the same shall be certified by the Captain of the Fire Brigade.


For Fire Brigade Men —per hour, First hour,                                    0  4 0

                Do.                   Second, and every succeeding hour,        0  2 0

Captain and Lieutenant., double the fees of the men.

Any sum paid by the Burgh for horses to be charged in addition to the above rates.

If the Engines are turned out but not employed at the Fire, only a half of the above rates to be charged. Time to be reckoned from the hour the Engine leaves the Burgh Premises until returned; and any portion of an hour to be charged as a full hour.
The Engine not to be sent out without a written or clear verbal message sent by a party or parties concerned in the property where the fire occurs to the Captain of the Fire Brigade; or, in his absence, to the Superintendent of Police or other responsible party.
The Committee also recommend that the Captain of the Fire Brigade should be instructed not on any occasion to engage any extra men further than those appointed by the Commissioner, the Proprietors, or parties interested in properties where Fires take place, to supply any extra assistance required.

(This was an 8 page book , 6 inches by 4 inches.)



Meetings of Police and Lighting Committee


7th day of November, 1859.
To purchase 7 fire plugs, 300 ft. of hose, hose reel, and necessities to form a Fire Brigade. 2 east most shops in Market Street to be fitted out as station house. Regulations for Airdrie Fire Brigade.

15th August 1870
Barrow too heavy and unwieldy, firemen were exhausted when they arrived at fire. Requested it be converted horse drawn

10th August 1874
Royal Insurance refused to pay for assistance at fire, won’t attend any more of their fires, until payment is made.

18th June 1883
All 10 firemen resigned after being refused pay rise. 10 new firemen appointed same day at same pay

2nd February, 1892
Request to fit brake to fire barrow for going down hills.

11 July, 1898
Agreed to purchase a horse drawn fire escape from Shand Mason for fire station in Louden Street. Electric call bells installed in firemen’s houses.

Handed over from local business man to chief constable, part police and retained, station in Anderson Street, bought petrol driven fire engine.

Chief Constable deprived of office, taken over by N.F.S. till end of war.
(Notes from minutes, supplied by Bob Mudie)`





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