london fire brigade mum daughter


    A mother and daughter have made history by becoming the first to serve with the London Fire Brigade at the same time in its 150 year history.

    New recruit Katie Holloway and her mum Sally Harper are keeping it in the family by working at the same fire station.

    Katie, 22, has joined the crews at Tooting Fire Station in south London where her mother, Sally, was first posted to when she passed out as a firefighter back in 1988, and is now the station manager.

    When Sally joined there were only seven serving women firefighters in the whole of London, compared to more than 300 across the capital today.

    Sally said the Brigade has changed a lot over the 28 years, adding: “Katie may have joined the same station as me, but it has changed so much since the late 1980s.

    “My locker was in a cupboard which I had to go through the men’s changing rooms to access.

    “After giving birth to my first daughter, Joanne, I was the first firefighter to come back to station after having a baby and attitudes towards women in the fire service were sometimes very challenging.

    “It’s so heartening to hear that Katie’s experience has been completely different and that everyone has welcomed her on the watch and been so supportive.”

    Katie has just completed her first full tour of duty and was thrown straight in at the deep end, tackling a storm that was given her name.

    She said: “We had a bin fire six minutes into my first shift and dealt with incidents from the recent storm named after me.

    “We’ve also carried out home fire safety visits and done lots of training so it’s been full on, but everyone has been so lovely and made me feel at home.

    “I’m immensely proud of the work my mum and others have done for women in the fire service which makes it a completely different experience to when she joined.”

    Women firefighters were originally a shock to the public who at the time saw firefighting as a very male orientated job.

    Sally, who is now approaching retirement, said: “I’ve been a firefighter for the whole of Katie’s life so it’s always been normal for her to see me in this role and understand shift work which means we sometimes miss Christmas or birthdays.

    “When Katie was at play school she once pretended to be the driver and the teacher asked ‘what are you driving?’ She said ‘I’m driving a fire engine like my mum.’

    “The teacher tried to correct her and said ‘don’t you mean your dad?’ Katie came straight back with ‘No, like my mum!’

    “I love my job so much and it will be difficult to leave. But I’m so proud of the achievements we’ve all made in making the fire service a much better environment for women to work in.

    “Another highlight of my career was being involved in setting up the Juvenile Fire Intervention Scheme that helps children who demonstrate a dangerous fascination with fire.

    “Being a woman firefighter you become a role model for the next generation and I’m so pleased that Katie is following in my footsteps.”

    This year is the 150th anniversary of the formation of the London Fire Brigade (LFB).

    Although the Great Fire of London happened 350 years ago, it wasn’t until January 1866 that the Brigade was formed as The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB).

    The MFB came about as insurance companies told the government they were unwilling to be responsible for London’s fire protection due to escalating compensation costs.


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