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As in every city, fires were always a great danger in London. The Great Fire of 1666, when half the City was destroyed, showed that even a small fire could have devastating consequences. However, it took nearly 200 years before a professional fire service was set up in London.
The Tooley Street fire. © NMM
Many of the most ferocious fires broke out on ships or in the warehouses of the port. As a result, the London fire services developed special facilities to fight blazes on and along the river.
Vaults at the Rum Quay after the fire of 1933. © NMM
Firemen tackling a blaze at the Surrey Docks. © NMM
It was mainly in the port that London's Fire Brigade faced its deadliest challenge during World War II, when Hitler's bombers attempted to destroy London's trade and communications.
Designed to deal with peacetime emergencies, London's Fire Brigade met the wartime challenge and ensured that the city was never brought to a standstill.
For more information about the history of the London Fire Brigade:
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