Second Officer Robert James White of Ryde Fire Brigade passed away on 16 June 1921 aged 63.
Records are ambiguous concerning Robert's birthplace in 1858, either Southampton or Shorwell. For sure he was baptised at Shorwell on 17 November 1861. His parents were Ellen and Isaac who was inn keeper of the Crown Inn at Shorwell.
In 1878 Robert married Sarah Woodcock from Yorkshire at the Registry Office and they had one son, Robert George who was baptised on 28 December 1879. The family settled at 5 Bedworth Place, Ryde, and Robert earned a living as a gas fitter and tinsmith. He was first mentioned in regard to service with Ryde Fire Brigade when attending the annual dinner in the Justice's Room at the Town Hall on 13 February 1888.
Between 1891-1900 the family were relocated to Brunswick Street and it was here on 24 September 1896 that Robert was, for obvious reason, one of the first to respond when the home of fellow fireman Williams, No. 24 Brunswick Street, was subject to a fire which he and Fireman Langdon were able to cope with while still in the early stages thanks to their close proximity.
In 1898 records show that Robert has been promoted to the role of escape-foreman, indicating that he would have been in charge of the crew dedicated for operation of the wheeled escape ladder and for carrying out rescues or firefighting from height. Within twelve months he was promoted again, this time to the position of Second Officer. However he retained responsibility for commanding the escape ladder and was often referred to as the escape foreman in the Press reports after his elevation to Second Officer.