This is a Kings Brigade silver type metal Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) Lapel Badge which fastens on the reverse with a buttonhole crescent.

Members of the AFS were unpaid part-time volunteers but could be called up for whole-time paid service if necessary. This was very similar to the wartime establishment of the Police Special Constabulary. Men and women could join, the latter mainly in an administrative role.

The Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) was first formed in 1938 in  Great Britain as part of the  Civil Defence Service. Its role was to supplement the work of Fire Brigades at a local level. The Auxiliary Fire Service and the local brigades were superseded in August 1941 by the National Fire Service. However, in 1948 the Auxiliary Fire Service was reformed alongside the Civil Defence Corps, starting initially with old National Fire Service equipment, forming part of the UK’s planned emergency response to a nuclear attack. It was then disbanded in the UK in 1968.

The Ranks within the AFS were:

  • Auxiliary Fireman
  • Patrol Officer
  • Section Officer
  • Deputy Commandant
  • Commandant

An AFS group was formed in every county borough, borough and urban district and there was also one in the London County Council area. Each AFS was commanded by a Commandant, with Deputy and/or Assistant Commandants in the larger services. The services operated their own fire stations, each commanded by a Section Officer, and station areas were divided into Fire Beats, each under the command of a Patrol Officer. Services with five or more stations divided them into Divisions, each under the command of a Divisional Officer. These ranks were not laid down by the government, and some services used different systems.

However, the role of the AFS was to provide mobile firefighting columns that could be deployed to areas that had suffered a nuclear attack (it being assumed that the local firefighting capability would most likely have been lost). The old equipment was not suitable for this task, so in the 1950’s the AFS was re-equipped. This included 1,000 Green Goddess (Bedford RLHZ Self Propelled Pump) fire engines, Land Rovers, motorcycles and support vehicles such as pipe carriers, mobile kitchens, and foam and water carriers.

These were substantial columns comprising many types of vehicles designed to be self-sufficient, including motorcycles to go ahead and control traffic (e.g. AJS and Matchless), and carry messages, control vehicles such as the Land Rover and Austin Gipsy, field telephone equipment, fire fighting vehicles, pipe, water and foam carriers, as well as breakdown trucks and stores and catering. The AFS equipment was painted in British Standard 381C colour Deep Bronze Green and carried large AFS door transfers.

When the AFS was disbanded in 1968, the 4×2 Green Goddess units were auctioned, but the 4×4 version and Land Rovers and Austin Gipsy’s were mothballed against some future emergency. Local authority fire brigades could borrow Home Office vehicles to meet exceptional needs, and 500 Green Goddesses were brought out of retirement during the drought of 1976.




Key theme(s):


More information:

Date 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s
Material(s) Metal
Item number MBPO229

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  • Do you remember the Auxiliary Fire Service?
  • Did you know anyone who was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service?
  • Did you see the Fire Engine vehicles rushing through the streets to attend a fire?
  • What sort of siren did they have?
  • How did you feel when they went past?

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