Some incidents forever remain in the memory of those who lived to see or even just hear of it. The devastating fire in the former store known generally as Fowler's, more formally S. Fowler and Co., Drapery and Costumiers, on the night of 12 January 1991 was one such incident.

The nature of the fire, the lives in immediate danger, and the potential for the fire to spread along one of Ryde's oldest stretches of commercial thoroughfare, compelled a robust response from the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, as indicated in the transcript below, extracted from an original service handwritten watch log, with additional explanation added for reader information. 

22:19 - 999 call received by Fire Control

22:20 - Send A4-1, A4-2, A1-B, to Fowlers, Union St., Ryde (Alpha 4-1 and 4-2 were Ryde's fire engines, A1-B was the Bronto from Newport). 

22:21 - S1 informed (Senior Duty Officer)

22:21 - F5 Mobile (Duty Officer)

22:22 - A1-B mobile, crew of 2, Fireman Bartley OiC

22:26 - A4-1 mobile, crew of 6, Leading Fireman White OiC

22:26 - A4-1 in attendance

22:26 - A4-2 mobile, crew of 6, Sub Officer Boulter OiC

22:27 - A4-2 in attendance

22:27 - Assistance message received by FC from Incident Commander ' Make pumps four'

22:28 - FC - send A1-2 (Newport), A1-1 (Newport) 

22:29 - A1-2 mobile, crew of 4, Sub Officer Ormonde OiC

22:30 - Informative message received by FC from Incident Commander 'Persons reported - on roof'

22:32 - A1-1 mobile, crew of 6, Sub Officer Squibb OiC

22:32 - F5 (Duty Officer) in attendance

22:32 - Assistance message received by FC from Incident Commander 'Make pumps six'

22:33 - FC - send A3-1 (East Cowes), A6-2 (Sandown)

22:34 - FC - Chief Fire Officer informed

22:36 - A3-1 mobile, crew of 6, Leading Fireman McGrath OiC

22:36  - S1 (Senior Duty Officer) in attendance

22:37 - A1-B in attendance

22:37 - A6-2 mobile, crew of 6, Station Officer Ballard OiC

22:37 - Assistance message received by FC from Incident Commander - 'Make pumps ten'

22:37 - FC - send A6-1 (Sandown), A5-1 (Bembridge), A2-1 (Cowes), A2-2 (Cowes)

22:38 - A1-2 in attendance

22:41 - A1-1 in attendance

22:41 - A5-1 mobile, crew of 6, Station Officer Jacobs OiC

22:43 - A2-1 mobile, crew of 6, Leading Fireman Ferguson OiC

22:43 - A2-2 mobile, crew of 6, Sub Officer King OiC

22:43 - FC - send A1-P, A1-E

22:44 - A1-E mobile, crew of 2, Sub Officer Sedgely OiC

22:45 - A6-1 mobile - crew of 6, Sub Officer Pidgeon OiC

22:37 - A6-2 mobile, crew of 6, Station Officer Ballard OiC

22:37 - Assistance message received by FC from Incident Commander - 'Make pumps ten'

22:37 - FC - send A6-1 (Sandown), A5-1 (Bembridge), A2-1 (Cowes), A2-2 (Cowes)

22:38 - A1-2 in attendance

22:41 - A1-1 in attendance

22:41 - A5-1 mobile, crew of 6, Station Officer Jacobs OiC

22:43 - A2-1 mobile, crew of 6, Leading Fireman Ferguson OiC

22:43 - A2-2 mobile, crew of 6, Sub Officer King OiC

22:43 - FC - send A1-P, A1-E 22:44 - A1-E mobile, crew of 2, Sub Officer Sedgely OiC

22:45 - A6-1 mobile - crew of 6, Sub Officer Pidgeon OiC

22:46 - A3-1 in attendance

22:47 - FC - send A1-F

22:47 - A1-P mobile, crew of 2, Fireman Knight OiC

22:48 - T2 mobile

22:48 - A1-F mobile, crew of 2, Leading Fireman Stotesbury OiC

22:51 - Informative message received by FC from Incident Commander 'Three floors well alight, Persons reported, 7 jets, 1 hose reel jet, 8 breathing apparatus, Bronto, in use'

22:52- A6-2 in attendance - T2 in attendance

22:55 - A6-1 in attendance

22:57 - A2-1 in attendance, A1-P in attendance, A1-F in attendance

22:59 - A2-2 in attendance, A1-E in attendance

22:59 - Assistance message by FC from Incident Commander 'Increase water supply - make water carriers two'

23:04 - FC - send A3-W (East Cowes, water carrier), A9-W (Freshwater, water carrier)

23:07 - Chief Fire Officer in attendance (CFO E.H. Wall)

23:07 - A9-W mobile, crew of 2, Fireman Whitewood OiC

23:09 - A5-1 in attendance

23:11 - FC - A9-W flat battery, duty mechanic required

23:18 - Informative message received by FC from Incident Commander 'Second, Third and Fourth floors involved, 40 x 30 metres, severly damaged, SGB required'

23:36 - A3-W mobile, crew of 2, Fireman Cook OiC

23:37 - Stage 1 requested 23:39 - FC - Send A1-L

23:39 - A1-L mobile, crew of 2, Fireman Rann OiC

23:50 - A3-W in attendance

23:56 - A1-L in attendance

As the incident bridged the change of date, the 13th arrived with concern that two persons were still on the roof of the rapidly deteriorating structure. 

00:25 - Assistance message received by FC from Incident Commander 'Two ground monitors required'

00:26 - A1-P mobile from fire ground to service headquarters to collect ground monitors

00:27 - Informative message received by FC from Incident Commander 'Two persons rescued'

00:27 - FC despatch undeployed appliances to standby locations - A8-2 (Ventnor) and A9-1 (Freshwater) to Newport, A7-1 (Shanklin) to Ryde

00:54 - Assistance message received by FC from Incident Commander 'HP required'

01:00 - Assistance message received by FC from Incident Commander 'Duty mechanic required for A1-B'

01:10 - 'Unable to find keys for HP'

01:13 - Stop message received by FC from Incident Commander '14 jets, 20 breathing apparatus, 2 ground monitors, in use'

01:20 - HP not required

03:03 - A10-1 mobile as relief crew, crew of six, Station Officer Corbett OiC

03:40 - A7-1 mobile as relief crew, crew of six, Sub Officer Drewery OiC

03:51 - A8-2 mobile as relief crew, crew of six, Station Officer Burden OiC

07:52 - A1-2 mobile as relief crew, crew of four, Sub Officer Ormonde OiC

07:52 - A4-2 mobile as relief crew, crew of six, Leading Fireman Perkis OiC

21:41 - Incident closed

 

The aftermath