'AFS Messenger Boy' by Reginald Mills, c.1940. Their role was to relay messages between AFS units and stations. Teenage boys riding bikes were used as messengers to assist in taking messages, ensuring that equipment and personnel were where they needed to be.
The Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) set up fire stations in buildings such as schools and garages. Members of the AFS were given basic uniforms and worked with pumping units, such as trailer pumps. These would be towed by a vehicle like a taxi and painted grey.
Sometimes London’s firemen would go to other areas of the country to provide assistance, but working alongside other fire brigades was not easy. There was confusion over who was in control, equipment used by different brigades was often incompatible and each brigade had different rules and regulations.
The organisation of the fire services throughout the country needed to be unified and in 1941 the National Fire Service (NFS) took over.