FIREMASTER JOHN JAMESON CBE QFSM FIMgt
1991 to 1999
Jameson’s Fire Service career started in 1965 when he joined Lanarkshire Fire
Brigade, gaining promotion to Leading Fireman in 1967
and Sub Officer in
1968. He moved to the Glasgow Fire Service in 1970 as a Station Officer in a very busy fire
prevention department and in 1975 he gained promotion to Assistant
Divisional Officer. On regionalisation
he was transferred to the newly formed Strathclyde
Fire Brigade’s ‘E’ Division as Divisional Officer III
Later in the same year he was promoted to Divisional Officer II.
In 1980 he achieved the rank of Senior Divisional Officer and in 1983 was given the task of project manager looking into computerised command and control systems. During his term he was awarded the Winston Churchill Fellowship which allowed him to do further research on these systems in the USA.
In 1985 he returned to operational commitments with the Brigade ‘A’ Division (formerly Glasgow North). While there he received the Strathclyde Regional Council Bravery award for an incident involving the rescue of a family from a collapsed building after a gas explosion.
He returned to brigade headquarters in 1987 as Assistant Firemaster (Personnel) and in 1988 he was appointed Deputy Firemaster.
(Fire Magazine March 1991. Page 6)
John Jameson, Firemaster of Strathclyde Fire Brigade, is
retiring on April 11.
Mr Jameson began his Fire Service career in Lanarkshire in 1965. Two years later he was promoted to Leading Fireman and then rose through the ranks as Sub Officer (1968), Station Officer in Glasgow (1970) and Assistant Divisional Officer (1974).
The following year Mr Jameson became Divisional Officer III with Strathclyde, then Divisional Officer II and Temporary Senior Divisional Officer in 1979. In 1983 he was promoted to Senior Divisional Officer , then Divisional Commander in 1987 before becoming Assistant Firemaster in 1987. The following year he was appointed Deputy Firemaster before taking command of the Brigade in 1991.
Mr Jameson was a Churchill Fellow in 1983 and is holder of the CBE, QFSM, LSGC and Strathclyde Bravery medals.
(Fire Magazine February 1999. Page 39.)
Obituary by Alan Forbes Media Officer
John Jameson, the Firemaster of Strathclyde Fire Brigade from 1991-99, has died after a long period of illness. He was 60.
Mr Jameson – or “JJ” as he
became known in the UK’s second largest fire service – was as acclaimed for his
administrative and political skills as for his courage and leadership on the
A native of Chapelhall in Lanarkshire, John Jameson joined the county’s Fire Service in 1965 and five years later moved to Glasgow Fire Service as a station officer in the fire prevention department. Although his abilities had been widely recognised in Lanarkshire and Glasgow, the amalgamation of the old “county” fire services in 1975 to form Strathclyde Fire Brigade provided a much bigger stage for his talents.
The new brigade had the task of protecting 2.3 million people across a 5,500 square mile area that included the “tinderbox city” of Glasgow and remote mainland and island communities.
An urgent priority for Strathclyde Fire Brigade was to find a standard radio callout and command system to replace a variety of incompatible systems inherited from the previous fire services. Ayrshire, for instance, was served by three incompatible radio systems. In Oban, firefighters were not called to fires until the police confirmed that a fire was taking place – this protocol delayed the turnout to the fire at the Esplanade Hotel in 1973 in which ten people died.
In 1979, John Jameson was promoted to Senior Divisional Officer and chosen to head the project team to find a system that would replace what he termed the old “hand knitted” systems. He recommended that the brigade’s five control centres be replaced by one state-of-the-art centre. That task was achieved by 1985 when a £1.9 million control centre was opened in Johnstone in Renfrewshire (this site remains the command and control centre for what is now Strathclyde Fire & Rescue).
John Jameson introduced the concept of heavy rescue vehicles to Strathclyde Fire Brigade following a visit to the USA and Canada as a Churchill Fellow. During his study trip, he discovered that the Fire Department of New York had two specialist rescue units trained in the use of hydraulic equipment to deal with incidents such as building collapses and major road or train accidents.
In 1987 John Jameson was promoted to Deputy Firemaster. The Firemaster at the time, Clive Halliday, asked his new deputy “to go round this brigade and see what is wrong”.
What John Jameson found in Argyll was, in his words, “a disaster waiting to happen”.
A tour of Argyll’s volunteer stations revealed a service provided by volunteers equipped only with plastic jackets and construction safety helmets rather than with firefighters’ protective clothing and breathing apparatus. Fire stations were often a shed containing a hose and a wartime stirrup pump, and the “fire engine” was the local builder’s pickup truck.
Describing this episode recently, John Jameson said: “The Scottish Office was advising us ‘Tell the volunteers not to go to fires.’ They kept denying volunteers were employees because, otherwise, they would have had to spend money to train them.”
Strathclyde Fire Brigade believed it was unrealistic to expect volunteers not to step in when they saw a fire or other emergency in their local community. Supported by the findings of John Jameson’s visit to Argyll, the brigade hired a Queen’s Counsel to argue the case that volunteers were indeed employees. The brigade won, and the Scottish Office gave £1 million to upgrade volunteer stations, equipment and training.
John Jameson’s political skills were revealed in the run-up to local government reorganisation in 1995. Concerned that the break up of Strathclyde Regional Council would bring with it the break up of the brigade, he lobbied hard against such a move.
Convinced that a return to smaller brigades would result in a less efficient service for the people of Strathclyde, John Jameson made sure that senior brigade officers were on hand at Westminster when discussions around sections of the Local Government (Scotland) Bill relating to the fire service were being debated. The officers provided vital information ensuring that amendments in the interests of the Scottish Fire Service were successfully adopted.
John Jameson was much decorated, receiving the CBE and the Queen’s Fire Service Medal for an outstanding career. In 1996 he received the Meritorious Medal from the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department to recognise training services provided by the brigade.
He was particularly proud of being one of several members of Strathclyde Fire Brigade awarded the Regional Council’s Bravery Medal for their rescue of people trapped under a collapsed tenement in Glasgow.
That was one of several occasions where John Jameson, now Firemaster, had to don the white helmet of incident commander at major emergencies. Other incidents included major fires at George Street and Renfield Street in Glasgow which severely disrupted the city centre.
Brian Sweeney, the Chief Officer of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, said: “John Jameson espoused everything that was good about our Fire Service. Inspirational, challenging and politically skilled, he lifted Strathclyde Fire Brigade up to the highest level. His stamp and his presence is very much felt today. His legacy has sadly lasted beyond his life but his commitment and drive for public protection will live on both in me and my successors. I feel that the Service and I have lost an inspirational leader, a tireless supporter, a wonderful role model and a very, very dear friend. He will be missed by both his family and also the extended family of the British Fire Service”.
Mr Jameson is survived by his wife Helen, daughter Clare and son “JP”.
Firemaster Jameson died on Monday 11th December 2006.
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