EMERGENCY SERVICES IN MALTA

CIVIL PROTECTION DEPARTMENT
(ASSISTANCE AND RESCUE FORCE)


HISTORY OF THE MALTA POLICE FIRE BRIGADE

Ford Bowser, Dennis FE, 2 Water Bowsers, 1 pipe laying van

The Fire Section within the Malta Police Corps was set up in 1934. In April 1936, it started making use of the first ever fire engine at its disposal. For many years the responsibility for Fire Services was in the hands of the British services in Malta. In 1883 the Malta Police were given some fire fighting apparatus (hoses, pumps, etc.) for fighting small fires which used to occur throughout the island. In 1902, Members of the Police Corps were trained by Water Works Department personnel in fighting fires, although the responsibility remained with the British services in Malta. In 1922, the Police were responsible for keeping the public order during fires, keeping the people as far as possible from the danger,and helping in laying of hoses, carraige of pumps and ladders.

First motorised Fire engine for the Police Firefighting equipment used in old times 1943 Fire Engine during the war

The first fire engines were water pumps fitted on steam vehicles. There were also fire hydrants in many places and police stations. In fact one still comes over white notices fixed on walls with red letters: F.H.

On 26 November 1934, by a notice in the Government Gazette, a new procedure was published classifying fires into three categories and how to treat these cases. In case of small fires, these were to be extinguished by means of water buckets and fire extinguishers, which were stored in Police stations. In case of major fires, the fire engine is to be called out. The third category was calling the help of the British military services in Malta. Since up to the year 1934 the Malta police had no fire engine of their own, the military was called out in the second and third categories of fire.

At the same time, the Police Corps organised the fire section with a small group of policemen and these firemen used to wear a uniform.

The first police fire engine was only used for small fires and in the Valletta area only. Businesses who were affected by fires, used to pay for the services of the British Military Fire Services.

Kordin Police Fire Station in 1979 Fire Engines available to the Police: 6 new Fresia Fire engines donated by the Italian Government, and 3 Bedfords Carmichael Dodge FE at Floriana Fire Station
Bedford FE - Taqsima Tifi tan-Nar Kordin 
Station Another Bedford FE at Floriana Fire Station A Ford Fire Engine at Floriana Fire Station

The Police started to acquire trucks to be re-modelled and used as Water Bowsers, since purchasing a proper fire engine costed money, which the police budget didn't have. They even purchased second hand fire engines from the UK to be used in Malta for fire fighting purposes. Such engines were the Dennis type which were used regularly in our island. Trucks used were the Ford type. Other used fire engines were acquired from the UK, such as Dodge, Bedfords, Dennis and Land Rovers.

Then the Police took the decision to purchase a lot of Bedford Fire Engines from England to be distributed throughout the outlaying stations, which were at that time, in Floriana, and at Kordin. Kordin was used by the British Forces in Malta, for the Admirality Constabulary Fire Brigade, since it was very near the Malta dockyards. In fact all the units stationed in this Station were left to the Malta Police when the British Forces ended their stay in Malta in 1979. The Kordin Station was handed three Bedford Fire Engines, while the Police Garage at Floriana had the following resources:
A Dennis Fire engine, 2 Ford water bowsers, 1 Land Rover, 1 Mini Countryman van.

The Police tried to keep abreast of events for any eventual disasters, by purchasing vehicles and equipment or even acquiring through the Italy-Malta Financial Protocols, 6 new Fresia Fire engines.

Following the setting up of a Civil Protection Department, another financial protocol was signed with Italy, enabling this new Department to acquire brand new fire engines and equipment for land and sea fire fighting. This financial protocol which costed millions of liri, saw the acquistion of some 30 fire engines of different shapes and sizes, a firefighting tug boat, 2 SAR vessels and 1 fire fighting patrol vessel. All this equipment was manufactured in Italy.

Dennis Fire Engine at Kordin Police Fire Station Another Ford Fire Engine at Kordin Fire Station. A 
Water Bowser can be seen in the background Land Rover for the Police Fire Brigade
First batch of Fire Engines for new Fire Station at Xemxija in the 90s Bedfords at Kordin Fire Station Ivecos at Hal Far Fire Station


Those persons who have any photos of emergency vehicles used by the Malta Police Fire Brigade, in the early 60s, 70s and 80s; are kindly requested to contact me for scanning purposes (Tel. 22001751). The scanned photos will be later featured on this Site.

This web-site is aimed to highlight the efforts made by all Maltese firefighters who at one time or another served, or are still serving and giving such a sterling service to those in need of their services.

The Malta Police Fire Brigade as it was in the early 1970s. The Brigade had only a Dennis Fire Engine, and 3 Ford Water Bowsers at its disposal. We have another historical photo of an early fire engine, in fact a water bowser which was used by the M.P.F.B. This vehicle was featured on the cover of the police magazine "Il-Pulizija" (September-October 1986).


The Fire Brigade in action.....:

Fire devastates warehouse store at Valletta.
During the Vulcan aircraft crash at Zabbar.

Note the Dennis Fire Engine (M.P. 44) which was the most modern appliance available to the Fire Brigade in those days and which was extensively used in almost all fire and rescue operations.


Line Up at the Floriana Police Fire Brigade,  consisting of: Dennis Fire Engine, 2 Ford Water Bowsers, 1 Bedford Hose Truck (a former Ambulance), and a Mini Minor Countryman The Dennis Fire engine going out on an Emergency call A Policeman stopping traffic to allow the fire engine to exit from the Fire Garage
The Dennis Fire Engine arriving at the scene of a grass fire Mtarfa Military Fire Station. The Handing over ceremony of a Bedford Fire Engine from the British Forces in Malta to the Malta Police Fire Brigade. On the 10th May 1978, prior 
to the British Services withdrawal from Malta, Police Commissioner John Cachia received the keys of this Appliance MPFB officers taking part in a display at Mtarfa Military Fire Station to show the abilities of the new Bedford Fire Engine. The Dennis Fire Engine was later withdrawn 
from service




OTHER EMERGENCY SERVICES' SITES

One fine day, you may find yourself face to face with an emergency in which you are either the victim or a witness. What are you to do in such circumstances? Remain a passive spectator or try to be of help to any victims who may urgently need your assistance, even by making a little phone call to the EMERGENCY SERVICES? Do you know the Emergency Numbers?

POLICE - 112 / 191

AMBULANCE - 112 / 196

FIRE SERVICE - 112 / 199

Do you know what to do when you come face to face with an emergency situation at your office, during your recreation or at home? What will you do when you witness a car crash, when your kitchen catches fire, or when your child chokes on some food?

It is very important that you know how to react in such cases. So if you click on the NEWS button you will find some very interesting information which will help you gain some knowledge on what to do to help others. Who knows, maybe one day you will need such advice!


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last modified: March 2010