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A fireman's axe

Fireman’s axe

Fire can spread rapidly and from the earliest days this spread was often contained by fire breaks – gaps between buildings.

Despite this, perhaps because of debris laying around, or a strong wind fanning the fire, it was often necessary to increase the width of the gap.

Axes were used to demolish buildings in the path of a spreading fire and rakes to clear the resulting debris.

For most of the 20th century every firefighter carried an axe on the belt of his firefighting uniform but the fire-resisting materials used in modern buildings meant the axe was only rarely used. Building and planning control ensures that there is good separation between properties.

The uniforms worn nowadays do not provide for an axe but one or two are still be carried on most fire engines – just in case...

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