Incident directory

1972 - Maryhill Road

18/11/1972

Country:

UK

  • Building Fires

Severity:

Description

Date of event

18th November 1972

Time of event

12:46 HRS (INITIAL CALL)

Name of premises

20 Maryhill Road (derelict shop).

Location

Maryhill Road, Glasgow.

Service area

The Glasgow Fire Service (GFS) now Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

Nature of incident

Fire.

Property type

Terraced shops on ground floor with 3 storeys of tenements above multiple dwellings (tenements) above, in a tapering V shape.

Premises use

Retail and dwellings.

Construction type and materials

Constructed Circa. 1842 with structural modifications Circa. 1875. Brick and stone, ‘massive’ timber beams, with wooden floors and internal partitions of brick/stone or studwork with lathe and plaster. Some shops on Maryhill Road had part flat roofing with the main roof of building pitched slate/tile.

Occupancy

Customers, staff and occupants of dwellings above.

Fire source and location of fire

Unknown ignition within disused shop.

Synopsis

Brief Synopsis

The Glasgow Fire Service (GFS) were called to a fire within a derelict shop at 20 Maryhill Road, Glasgow at approximately 12:46 on the 18th November 1972. Smoke from the fire had been noticed by occupants of the tenements above at least an hour before the first 999 call at 12:46 with other signs of fire potentially present much earlier that morning but no apparent action taken. Initially a Water Tender Ladder (WrL), a Water Tender Escape (WrE) and a Turntable Ladder (TL) were sent which arrived at approximately 12:49. A Station Officer (StnO) was initially in charge. On arrival it was noticed that there was a fire within The Trident Shop at 23 to 25 Maryhill Road (Cooper, 1973 & James, Unknown date).

It had been assessed that the shop ‘was seriously, though not totally involved in fire’. Breaking in tools to gain access through the front door were called for and firefighting equipment (Hose reel and hose line) was laid out (Cooper, 1973). As firefighting equipment was being prepared and used the heat affected shop window/s to the shop cracked. The StnO in charge ordered first the left hand and when this was done, the right-hand window to be broken. After the left-hand window was broken but before the right-hand window was broken it ‘shattered’. A sudden rapid fire development, ‘flashover’ occurred. The fire developed very quickly. The flames ‘leapt across the pavement, scorching the side of an appliance and melting the plastic fascia of a parked car’. ‘The branchmen were forced to scatter and the appliance had to be quickly moved’ (Cooper, 1973).

It was a busy Saturday afternoon with many shoppers and other members of the public observing the fire as it developed (James, unknown date).

At approximately 12:51 a make pumps (MP) 3 assistance message was sent as a result of the fire development. Numerous people were trapped within the tenements above and were calling for help from windows and the flat roof projecting from the shops. Large volumes of smoke were spreading around the street with ‘some injuring themselves in their panic to flee the scene’ (James, unknown date). A Turntable Ladder (TL) arrived on scene and began rescuing people from the flat roof. At approximately 13:00 a MP 5 message was sent. Numerous people were rescued via stairwells and ladders also. Civilians were reported to be helping with ladder rescues (Cooper, 1973). The fire was spreading to adjoining shops (including Bruce’s Furniture Shop) and tenements above. Sub Officer (SubO) Adrian McGill who had arrived at approximately 12:55 on the first attending make up appliance, was involved with numerous rescues from a stairwell but couldn’t penetrate into the building further without breathing apparatus (BA). He and another firefighter, a short while later, donned Proto BA sets ‘but did not go into Oxygen’ (Cooper, 1973). They made their way towards the building and got separated in the smoke. At some stage SubO McGill had entered/re-entered the building alone and located a woman who was trapped on the upper floors. At approximately 13:10 SubO McGill had appeared at the woman’s window, while a TL was being bought to it, and said to a Divisional Officer (DO) ‘everything was all right’ (Cooper, 1973) whereby it appears that the TL was then used for other rescues instead. The fire continued to develop and spread with numerous assistance and informative messages sent. At approximately 13:20 MP 8 sent from the DO who was in charge. At approximately 13:24 MP 12 was sent from the Deputy Firemaster (DepFm) (Cooper, 1973 & James, Unknown date).

It was believed, but not confirmed or reported, that at some time during this attempted rescue that SubO McGill had shared his BA set with the woman and had then succumbed to the effects of the smoke and died (Course & James, 2016). Cooper, 1973 covers this point stating there was no evidence of this however another SubO who found the bodies ‘spontaneously gave his Oxygen’ to the woman while awaiting rescue at the window (cooper, 1973).

SubO McGill’s body was described as pink in colour indicating high levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO). The woman also died later. The timings are currently unclear, but BA crews were understood to have found the bodies within a top floor flat kitchen at approximately 14:00 to 14:20 near to the rear window the SubO had called down to the DO from earlier. The bodies were removed via the front windows. Cooper, 1973, states that had the woman who died ‘gone to the front window of her home she would have been rescued by Turntable Ladder along with other tenants’ (Cooper, 1973).

At approximately 14:11 a MP 14 assistance message was sent. Numerous aerial appliances and other special appliances were also sent. At approximately 14:21 after the rescue of SubO McGill and the woman there was a significant structural collapse reported, involving part of the roof, floors and the back wall of the building that trapped a StnO and a Leading Fireman (LFm) (Cooper, 1973).

25 appliances had been mobilised to the fire including 5 TL’s and 1 Hydraulic Platform (HP). 113 personnel were committed and 30 Proto Mk 5 BA sets were used (Cooper, 1973).

‘The fire consumed 41 dwelling houses destroyed by fire and/or demolition resulting from fire damage 6 Shops destroyed by fire / demolition’. ‘2 Public Houses destroyed by fire / demolition. 1 Post Office destroyed by demolition’.

‘15 civilians were rescued by Extension or Turntable Ladder with “other” rescues estimated to be between 200 to 300 persons’. (Cooper, 1973).

Several firefighters were injured and required rescue and hospital treatment. A stop message was sent at 18:35 (James, unknown date).

 Pic 01

Image from Logowski, K. (2016), courtesy of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

 Pic 02

From James, B., unknown date.

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From James, B., unknown date.

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From James, B., unknown date.

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From Unknown author, 1973, courtesy of Fire magazine.

 Pic 06

Image from Logowski, K. (2016), courtesy of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

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Image from Logowski, K. (2016), courtesy of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

 Pic 08

From James, B., unknown date. Earlier stages of fire within Bruce’s Furniture Store.

 Pic 09

Image from Logowski, K. (2016), courtesy of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

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Image from Logowski, K. (2016), courtesy of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

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Image from Logowski, K. (2016), courtesy of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

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Image from Logowski, K. (2016), courtesy of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

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Image from Logowski, K. (2016), courtesy of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

 Pic 14

From James, B., unknown date.

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From James, B., unknown date.

 Pic 16

From James, B., unknown date.

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Main findings, key lessons & areas for learning

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Fire & Rescue Service summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons & recommendations

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

FBU summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons & recommendations

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Other report summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons &recommendations

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

IFE Commentary & lessons if applicable

None produced at this time.

Known available source documents

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

FRS Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

FBU Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Scottish Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Incident Report/s and/or improvement notices

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Police Scotland Incident Report/s

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Scottish Ambulance Service Incident Report

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Building Research Establishment (BRE) Reports/investigations/research

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Coroner’s report/s and/or Rule 43 and/or Regulation 28 Notices etc

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Dear Chief Officer Letters (DCOL), FRS Circulars, FRS Notices and/or Bulletins etc and/or Related Government Correspondence

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Notifications from National Operational Learning User Group (NOLUG) and/or Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP)

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Other information sources

James, B. (unknown date) Maryhill Road fire. [pdf] Personal account & Glasgow Fire Service. [pdf]. Available here.

Course, A. & James, B. (2016). Private anecdotal discussion about the Maryhill Road fire. (October).

Forbes, A. & Smith, J. (2010). Tinderbox heroes. commemorating the Cheapside Street disaster and the extreme challenges faced by Glasgow’s post-war fire service. Glasgow. Strathclyde fire & rescue retired employees association.

Collection of press references. (unknown date) Maryhill Road Saturday 18th November 1972. [pdf] The Firefighters Heritage Trail. Available at http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/media/336106/12_Maryhill_Road_archive_press.pdf [Accessed on 17th August 2016].

Legowski, K. (unknown date) Photo gallery of Maryhill Road fire. [online] Available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/93785949@N03/sets/72157632921407567/  also available at http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/the-firefighters-heritage-trail/maryhill-road.aspx [Accessed on 17th August 2016].

House, A. & Settle, P. et al. (2016). The firefighter memorial trust book of remembrance. [online]. Available at. http://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/FirefighterMemorialTrust/Content/Filler  [Accessed 20th September 2017]. The Firefighters Memorial Trust.

Note. with the above source reference, it is not currently possible to link directly to the relevant page of the memorial book.

Cooper, G. P. (1973). Search for trapped woman in Maryhill Road tenement fire. dead man did not follow normal BA procedures – ‘most other firemen would do the same’. Fire. (August). Page 140 to 142.

Unknown author. (1972). Glasgow tenements fire. Sub Officer dies in vain rescue bid. Fire. (December). Page 316.

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Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Service learning material

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Videos available

 

Youtube. (2016). Firefighters heritage trail – Maryhill Road. [online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI4vcplBlAo [Accessed 1st October 2016].

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