Efficiency of the N.F.S.
Recent enemy air attacks on Great Britain have provided an opportunity of testing the efficiency of the National Fire Service, particularly in the Greater London area. It has been a test not only of practical fire-fighting, but also of an elaborate system of administration, communications, and control, which had not previously been tried out in battle.
The Fire Service was nationalized in the summer of 1941, and apart from the Baedeker raids, the recent attempt by the enemy to switch the battle of Berlin to London is the first opportunity the N.F.S. has had of justifying its system of unified and centralized control.
The general impression is that the Service has come up to expectations. It is not possible to prevent fires being started, but the glows in the sky have rapidly disappeared and daylight has found the great bulk of appliances back in their stations and only a handful of pump crews turning over and cooling down debris and completing vital salvage operations. The fact that few fires have grown to major proportions and none has become a serious conflagration is the real guide to the success or otherwise of fire operations. Critical examination of the results achieved has given those responsible for the organization of the Service good cause for optimism.
A notable feature of the improved technique of the N.F.S. is the general adoption by the service of effective salvage methods which have greatly reduced damage from water and other injurious elements. Owners of valuable machinery, some of it irreplaceable during the war, have been agreeably surprised to find that their fears of irreparable loss were unfounded. Machines have been covered to prevent their being damaged, while everything that could possibly be salvaged has been removed to safety.
The scheme as a whole is operating smoothly. A vital part of the N.F.S. operational plan is cooperation with the Fire Guard organization. Under the new system innumerable fires are dealt with by the Fire Guards and only those beyond, or likely to be beyond, their control are reported to the N.F.S., with the result that the N.F.S. is much better able to concentrate its efforts where they are really needed.