Last updated: 26/11/2020, 9:48 AM

London firefighter Frank Bailey remembered with a Google Doodle

26/11/2020 09:00
Our people

Frank Arthur Bailey has been remembered with a Google Doodle on what would have been his 95th birthday.

Frank came to London from Guyana in 1953. We believe Frank was the first full time black firefighter in London, and possibly the first in the country.

He applied to and joined West Ham Fire Brigade in 1955 and served at Silvertown Fire Station. He had decided to join after hearing that black people 'were not employed by the fire service'.

Frank was active in the FBU and became branch secretary at his station. He also counted the then FBU General Secretary, John Horner as a close friend.

In 1965 he left the Brigade to become a social worker and the first black legal advisor to black youths at Marylebone Magistrates Court.

Historical image of firefighter Frank Bailey

In 2007  Frank was asked for his thoughts on his career for a Brigade booklet called 'In their own words' – a history of black and Asian staff in the London Fire Brigade.

He said: "I was told that the authorities were not hiring black men because they were not strong enough physically or well enough educated to do the job.

"I immediately recognised racism and said I’m going to apply to be a firefighter and see if they find me unfit.

"I saved a fellow firefighter's life when he fainted while we were on the fifth floor of a ladder drill session.

"I brought him down to the ground in a fireman's lift. The guy's weight was 16 stone and he was 6'2."

Frank passed away on the 2nd December 2015, six days after his 90th birthday.

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