London Fire Brigade

Kevin Muller, Water Manager

The Brigade has a long history with water, pipes, hydrants and hoses. Kevin Muller manages our Water Team, so our firefighters have all the water they need to do their job.

"Rarely, when I've had the misfortune to walk past a fire, I've taken some pleasure from the fact that the firefighters could use the nearest hydrant and it was in working order."

In the 1860s, water mains in London were made from hollowed out tree trunks, hence the name trunk mains. The Victorians later replaced the wooden mains with cast iron, which was more robust.

However, some cast iron pipes were subsequently replaced by a cheaper type of iron, which didn't prove as robust and, as a consequence, the water industry had leakage issues for a number of years.

Plastic water mains have overcome lots of the issues iron water mains experienced with ground movement - London's clay type soil is prone to movement.

Constantly evolving

The way we work with water has always evolved. Kevin joined the water team in 2011. At this time the team was moving their data from paper-based to digital.

"Our move to electronic means of working has improved the efficiency and accuracy of hydrant inspections by stations."

To keep a constant supply of water for our firefighters, we work with a number of organisations.

"I enjoy supporting and delivering resources to frontline fire fighting. Working with industries like the water companies and effectively marrying the Brigade's need with what they offer.

"We have a memorandum of understanding with the water companies, which has improved our relationship with them.

"Now we share information and are constantly looking at innovations and smarter ways of doing things better. This is a partnership which is going to grow into the future."

Save the trees

We have a long history of using trees to help us supply water but sometimes they can cause us problems too.

"A repair was being done by the contractors from Thames Water and hydrant where a tree’s roots were tangled around it.

"Just as the team were about to cut the root the local authority tree inspector happened to walk by and told them to stop.

"It turned out that the tree was the oldest tree in that borough, Kensington and Chelsea - so of course we stopped. We eventually ended up installing a new hydrant, further down the road, so the tree could be saved."

Without a good water supply, there are a number of incidents where we would struggle to resolve the situation. We depend on the Water Team to support us in our work.

"If the Water Team and the water companies do their work right firefighters can turn up at a fire and know where they can access all the water they need."


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