The IWFBF today

Today the IWFBF is not a formal organisation, in fact, to be totally honest, it's just me.

I'm Damon, an adopted son of the Isle of Wight who began this life of firefighting as a retained member of the service at Ryde in 1996.

Shortly after that I wangled my way into civil aviation and worked my way up to Station Manager concurrent to running an aviation crash/rescue unit to List-X MoD standards until 2010.

During that time I was fortunate to have followed many varied and interesting paths. In addition to working towards Crown Standards of fire protection under the guidance of the Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation I also had the privilege to be appointed MoD Regional Post-Crash Management Incident Officer on behalf of the Royal Air Force following a course of education at the Defence Aviation Safety Centre at RAF Bentley Priory. 

In the same year I was named as the joint winner of the 2005 United Kingdom Airport Rescue and Firefighter Supervisor of the year award in my category and presented with the Silver Axe and plaques at the International Fire Training Centre by the sponsor Bristol Uniforms. 

This was followed by two invitations to speak at the annual International Fire Service Managers seminar on the subject of Military Aircraft Post-Crash Management. I was also one of the first two fire officers in the UK to be trained by the Cirrus Corporation of Minnesota with the skills and knowledge to identify, disarm and disassemble Ballistic Recovery Systems at the site of non-deployment post-crash incident sites. Additionally I undertook the learning required to deliver offshore firefighter training, evolving to the design and delivery of an Advanced Firefighting course to enable a client to meet the standard audited by the Maritime Coastguard Agency. 

In 2004 and 2005, being both aviation and local authority firefighting experienced and qualified, I was hired to construct, train and command crews to provide fire cover both airside and landside during the hugely popular D-Day Commemorative and End of the War air shows.

Throughout the 14 years of travels through various aspects of the firefighting industry I maintained my retained commitment to the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service. However in 2010 a change of direction was compelled by a need to make lifestyle changes combined with the sudden and unexpected opportunity to do so; in February of that year I migrated my retained role to one on a wholetime basis - although that meant rescinding my aviation position, not an easy decision to make. In the last week of January 2010 I was an AvP67 2A commander in London formally briefing committees of the MoD concerning my handover, the next week I was a firefighter mopping the floor of Ryde's engine house!

Since then I remained operational within the service until 2016 when I applied for the role of co-ordinator of the training product during a phase known as Delivering Differently in Partnership, the formal beginnings of closer liaison with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Following that I served as the service's Inspection Readiness Officer, tasked with preparing the service for its first visit and audit by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's and Fire and Rescue Services, before turning my attention back to my greatest passion - training, and today I remain with the combined Hampshire and Isle of Wight FRS in the Learning and Development department. 

My interest in the history of Isle of Wight firefighting began within weeks of joining the service when a new colleague, now a long established friend, advised me to take a look at a small but important pile of documents that were retained from the old station at Ryde when it moved to the new facility on Nicholson Road in 1994. The bug got me when I began reading a diary written by a teenaged Ryde fireman of the war, describing events in places that I knew so well but in an unimaginable context. The diary ended suddenly, literally mid-sentence, and therein germinated the beginnings of a desire to know more which, after many years, resulted in the publication of eight books serialising the fascinating history of the fire services that have protected this garden isle. 

Today I utilise the IWFBF brand as a platform from which to raise awareness of the Island's firefighting history and to raise funds for the Firefighters Charity, just like our forebears did back in the pre-World War Two era, holding events of which the Widows and Orphans Fund were the beneficiaries. 

Below is a list of significant dates in the IWFBF timeline, with dates of future events placed for clarity.

If you would like to arrange a talk for your group, please use the contact page to get in touch. The most popular presentation I do is called 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump', and it's never the same twice, see why here

Date Event
1894 March 31 IWFBF founded during a meeting of brigade captains at Ryde Town Hall.
1894 September 6 The first IWFBF drill competition, held at Simeon Street Recreation Ground, Ryde.
1920 March 13 Revival of the post-First World War IWFBF.
1939 July 12 The last IWFBF drill competition, held at Big Meade, Shanklin.
1945 December A formal IWFBF celebratory dinner is held at an unknown venue. It is believed that in recognition that post-war firefighting would not return to the parish, town, and borough brigades of the pre-war era, there would no longer be a need for a Federation of Island brigades and that this event marked its end.
2010 Discovery of the existence of the IWFBF during fire service history research.
2018 February 3 Launch of the IWFBF Facebook group page.
2018 May 11 Publication of 'Ready When Wanted' - Volume 1 of IW firefighting history.
2018 August 15 Publication of 'My War Diary' the diary of Fireman Colin Weeks.
2018 September 8 Publication of 'From Victoria to the Armistice' Volume 2 of IW firefighting history.
2018 November 7 The first IWFBF public event since 1945 - a presentation delivered to the Ryde Horticultural Society, at All Saints Church Hall, Ryde.
2018 November 8 Attendance by invite to the Ryde Cemetery Service of Remembrance organised by Ryde Social Heritage Group.
2018 November 9 Talk delivered to the Breath Easy Support Group, St Mary's Hospital, Newport.
2019 February 26 Delivery of the first version of 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' to members of Carisbrooke Castle Museum.
2019 March 2 'Isle of Wight fire services during the Second World War' - a tailored talk as requested by the members of the Vectis 1940's Vintage group, at Church Close Community Centre, Wootton.
2019 April 13 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - delivered to Ryde Social Heritage Group at the George Street Centre, Ryde.
2019 May 20 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - delivered to the IW Interest Group at The Pavilion, Newchurch.
2019 August 13 Publication of 'The Beginning of the End' - Volume 3 of IW firefighting history.
2019 September 27 Publication of 'A Calf with Two Heads' - Volume 4 of IW firefighting history.
2019 December 12 Publication of 'The Road is Long and Narrow' - Volume 5 of IW firefighting history.
2020 February 10 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - delivered to the RAF Association at the Riverside Centre, Newport.
2020 March 29 Publication of 'The End of the Brigades' - Volume 6 of IW firefighting history.
2020 March 30 Publication of 'As Severe a Test' - Volume 7 of IW firefighting history.
2020 August 1 Publication of 'Beyond Victory' - Volume 8 of IW firefighting history.
2022 February 8 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - delivered to the Ryde Rotary Club at Yelf's Hotel, Ryde.
2022 March 16 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - delivered to the Friends of Carisbrooke Castle.
2020 April 8 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - delivered to the St John's Church Club, Ryde.
2020 July 25 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - delivered to the IW Austin's at Arreton Community Hall.
2021 March 1 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - delivered to the Isle of Wight Family History Society online via Zoom
2022 September 2 'The Great Fire of London' - delivered to the IW University of Free Time at the Wootton Scout Hut.
2022 October 28 'A Number of Stalwart Men - the firefighters of Binstead' - delivered to the members of Holy Cross Church, Binstead.
2022 November 13 Remembrance Sunday - remembering Messenger Arnold John Ferrari, St Peter's Church, Shorwell.
2022 November 25 'The Great Fire of London' - delivered to the Vectis 40's Vintage Group, Wootton Scout Hut.
2023 January 9 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - delivered to the IW Family History Society at Arreton Community Hall.
2023 February 9 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - Whitwell WI, Whitwell Village Hall.
2023 April 27 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - Upton WI, United Reformed Church, Ryde.
2023 May 9 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - East Cowes Ladies Group, Methodist Church, Adelaide Grove
2023 May 19 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - Brighstone History Society, Wilberforce Hall, Brighstone.
2023 May 25 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - Ryde Rowing Club.
2023 December 7 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - Shanklin History Society, Falcon Cross Hall, Shanklin
2024 January 15 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - National Trust Association, Arreton Community Hall.
2024 January 16 After dinner presentation, Isle of Wight Round Table, New Holmwood Hotel, Cowes.
2024 February 5 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - Bonchurch Social Club, Our Lady and St Wilfrid's Parish Room, Ventnor
2024 April 26 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - Newport Heritage Group, 64 High St., Newport
2024 October 9 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - Creekside Womens Institute, Wootton Bridge Methodist Hall.
2024 October 31 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' Part 2 for Ryde Rowing Club.
2025 January 20 'Heroism, Humour and the Hump' - Bembridge Windmill WI, The Cloisters, Bembridge

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