Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Fire and Rescue Services - 1 September 2009

A set of 6 stamps depicting the various duties and activities undertaken by the country's Fire & Rescue Services personnel.  

In recent years changes in the environment have placed greater demands on the fire service.  During widespread flooding in 2007, fire crews rescued over 9,000 people as more than 55,000 homes and businesses were flooded, and with around 5 million people thought to be living in flood-risk areas, the threat of severe flooding remains.  

Reacting to a major incident has always been one of the true tests of an emergency service, and it certainly proved to be the case in December 2005 when a total of 31 Fire and Rescue Services joined forces to tackle a huge fire at the Buncefield oil storage depot in Hemel Hempstead.

More than 40 people were injured following a series of large explosions, but fortunately no fatalities were recorded during this serious and dangerous incident. Firefighters controlled the blaze by using a massive 786,000 litres of foam concentrate, 53 million litres of fresh water and 15 million litres of recycled water.

Every day brings new challenges for the UK’s fire crews, but these highly trained men and women are ready for anything.

Set of 6 new british stamps showing images of the fire service.
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Set of 6 stamps:

1st - firefighting

54p Chemical Fire

56p Emergency Rescue

62p Flood Rescue

81p Search & Rescue

90p Fire Safety

Brief descriptions - stamp by stamp

1st Class – Firefighting The firefighters of the UK’s 58 Fire and Rescue Authorities are well trained in tackling the types of incidents described below – but it wasn’t always the case. There has been evidence of organised firefighting in Britain since the Roman invasion of AD 43, but it took the Great Fire of London in1666 to move things forward. Insurance companies offering the first type of fire cover were formed, enabling citizens to pay to protect their home or business in the unfortunate event of a fire. The same firms also established private fire brigades specifically to respond to emergency calls from their policy-holders. Nine years after the Edinburgh Fire Engine Establishment was created in 1824, several London insurance companies merged to set up the first London fire brigade, laying the foundations for the modern fire service. Modern day firefighters working for the UK’s Fire and Rescue Services are primed and ready to deal with a wide range of emergencies. Every shout is different from the last – from house fires caused by faulty electrical appliances or out-of-control barbecues to warehouse blazes, factory fires or arson attacks.

54p – Chemical Fire
Most of Britain’s Fire and Rescue Services have at least one chemical incident unit whose firefighters have been trained to deal with emergencies involving hazardous materials.  Key roles include the containment of spillages, decontamination and environmental protection.  Specialist apparatus, which varies between units, includes: radiation-monitoring equipment, chemical containment and absorption materials, leak-sealing equipment, foam concentrate, pumps for pumping up industrial chemicals, and drain blockers.

56p – Emergency Rescue
According to figures for 2007 released by the Department for Transport, there were a total of 182,115 road accidents involving personal injury, of which 27,036 involved death or serious injury. First on the scene of many road traffic accidents are members of the Fire and Rescue Service.   In addition to putting out vehicle fires, the fire crew must ensure that the surrounding area is made safe and the spillage of any hazardous substance is contained. In more serious collisions, firefighters are involved in freeing individuals trapped in the wreckage.

62p – Flood Rescue
According to the Environment Agency, around 5million people in England and Wales now live in flood risk areas, and with the UK’s weather becoming evermore extreme, the nation’s Fire and Rescue Services now play a key role in responding to flood-related emergencies.   In summer 2007, widespread flooding placed great demands on the fire service. More than 55,000 homes and businesses were flooded, with over 9,000 people rescued. In terms of scale, the Fire Brigades Union described the rescue effort as ‘the biggest in peacetime Britain’.

81p – Search and Rescue
Firefighters with training in urban search and rescue (USAR) techniques use specialist equipment to lift, cut away and remove debris from collapsed buildings and damaged vehicles to make the area safe enough to search for casualties trapped inside.   Members of each USAR unit are trained to use a range of specialist apparatus, including listening devices, communication probes, technical search cameras, cutting, drilling and breaking tools, heavy-capacity airbags, and propping and shoring equipment. Specially adapted vehicles are also used in USAR work.

90p – Fire Safety
Fire authorities across the UK have a long tradition of maintaining vital links within their local communities. From school visits and fire prevention talks to safety checks and smoke alarm tests in the home, local fire services play an important role in community life.  In 2002 the London Fire Brigade established Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) – an intensive five-day course that enables young people to learn a range of skills, including handson firefighting, first aid and fire prevention. LIFE has since been adopted by a number of regional fire services.

Technical details:

Designed by Rose Design the six 37 x 35mm stamps are printed in gravure by De La Rue Security Print Ltd.  Perforations are 14 x 14˝ and phosphor is 'all-over'.
Photographic credits:  Firefighting © Ian Miles-Flashpoint Pictures/Alamy;  Chemical Fire © Getty Images and Nikki Edmunds/Alamy; Emergency Rescue © Liam Bailey, 2008 and Charles Sturge/Alamy; Flood Rescue © Jack Sullivan/Alamy and Jeff Morgan environmental issues/Alamy; Search and Rescue © Matthew Mawson/Alamy, Manor Photography/Alamy and Larrie
Barlow, Crown copyright, The Fire Service College;  Fire Safety © Jack Sullivan/Alamy and Justin Kase/Alamy
  All images are by kind permission of Royal Mail, Copyright 2008/9. This website is copyright Norvic Philatelics 2009.

Products issued Fire & Rescue services Royal Mail first day cover.Fire & Rescue services Presentation Pack

Mint set
Royal Mail FDCs 
Presentation Pack
Set of 6 Stamp Cards

Special Postmarks
Postmarks available for the day of issue are shown here, others will be added later. These are not to scale. These postmarks cannot be obtained after the date of issue.

Official Bureau first day of issue postmark for fir & rescue stamps. Official Hose, Melton Mowbray, first day of issue postmark forfire & rescue stamps. Official Hose first day of issue non-pictorial postmark for fire & rescue stamp issue. Chester postmark showing fireman with hose. Birmingham postmark showing Victorian fireman'.
Ref FD923
Philatelic Bureau Official Postmark illustrated with life-saving equipment.
Ref FD804
Hose, Melton Mowbray, official postmark illustrated with a coiled fire hose
Ref FD804NP
Hose Official non-pictorial Postmark
Ref W11447
Fire and Rescue Services, Chester, Cheshire
Ref M11443
Fire & Rescue Service, Fire Staton Road, Birmingham
postmark showing St Paul's Cathedral, London Free-form postmark in the form of a flame. postmark showing hose spraying Phil-Stamp.
postmark showing coiled fire hose.
Postmark showing badge of the British Fire Services Association.
Ref L11440
70th Anniv of the Auxiliary Fire Sevice, London EC1
Ref L11441
FIRE Bell Lane, Surbiton
Ref M11442
Hose, Melton Mowbray
Ref  N11461
Engine Lane, Liverpool (GBFDC Association)
Ref N11462
The British Fire Services Association, Sleaford, Lincolnshire
Postmark showing fire engine.
Postmark showing fireman.
Postmark showing logo of Auxiliary Fire Service.
Postmark illustrated with Victorian fireman's helmet.

Ref M11457
Fire and Rescue, Wolverhampton
Ref L11465
Union Street, London SE1
Ref L11466
70th Ann of the Auxiliary Fire Service
Ref M11486 Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire (location of Fire Services College) Note: These last three handstamps were announced after the stamps were issued.
If you would like a cover with one of these handstamps please order by 11 September

This page updated 8 September 2009

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