COMBATING INCENDIARY BOMBS:  United Kingdom. 1938-1945.  As part of the incipient fire fighting strategy of attacking fires from incendiary bombs before they could take hold, it was generally recognized that individuals resident or working in a building hit by an incendiary device should attempt to control and extinguish the fire.  This was a three part problem, subject to analysis using the model of emergency management phases, although it was not explained in those terms during World War II.

Mitigation:  Householders were encouraged to clear roof spaces and attics of any materials that could be easily ignited by an incendiary bomb, and to ensure that there was easy access into the space.

Preparedness:  Individuals were encouraged to have at the ready:

All of these supplies were to be positioned on the top floor of the house.  In addition householders were encouraged to:

During an air raid all doors in the house were to be kept shut.  Although in a small house it might have been possible to hear an incendiary bomb hit the roof, in a large house a firewatcher was stationed on the top floor with a whistle to summon help. 

Response: A rapid response to incendiary bombs was stressed to prevent the fire from taking hold - contemporary materials indicated that control efforts initiated in the first minute had the best chance of success.  The general procedure for controlling an incendiary bomb was:

Householders were expected to be able to control and extinguish an incendiary bomb.  Effective control measures had the potential to significantly reduce the demands on the fire brigade, increasing their ability to concentrate on major fires.  However, instructions also encouraged rapid reporting to a fire patrol, air raid warden, policeman, or the fire brigade if the fire could not be quickly gotten under control.

This procedure is interesting in its basic assumption - that a house would be struck only by a single incendiary bomb.  It is also interesting that the cigarette card series depicting these procedures features a woman as the household firefighter.

Sources: "What People Were Told To Do," location http://mysite.freeserve.com/FIREMAN/page5.html, 31 January 2002.  "Fire Advice in War Time," location http://mysite.freeserve.com/FIREMAN/page4.html, 31 January 2002.  Ogden's Cigarettes, "Incendiary Bomb Cooling Down," in Air Raid Precautions, Number 14, cigarette card, published by the author, United Kingdom, no date (believed to be prior to World War II).  Ogden's Cigarettes, "Control of Incendiary Bomb," in Air Raid Precautions, Number 15, cigarette card, published by the author, United Kingdom, no date (believed to be prior to World War II).  Ogden's Cigarettes, "Removal of Incendiary Bomb with Scoop and Hoe," in Air Raid Precautions, Number 16, cigarette card, published by the author, United Kingdom, no date (believed to be prior to World War II).  Ogden's Cigarettes, "Extinction of Incendiary Bomb," in Air Raid Precautions, Number 17, cigarette card, published by the author, United Kingdom, no date (believed to be prior to World War II).

Entry 0396 - posted 18 August 2003