Prior to 1865 there was no Fire Brigade as such in Gibraltar, fire fighting being carried out by the Military, Fire engines were stationed at strategic points in Gibraltar. In 1865 the Sanitary Order in Council set up the Sanitary Commissioners placing upon them the responsibility of; “the prevention and extinction of fires”. The Order in Council also authorised the Governor to make from time to time, Rules and Regulations for the extinction and prevention of fires.
Records indicate telephone was in use at this time.
In 1906 Electric lights were first installed in the fire station.
Suggestion made to transfer the staffing of the brigade by the police as Military intended to withdraw troops for other duties. Cost of scheme with 40 policemen would be £428 per annum. alternative proposal made by Sgt Robinson of Fire Brigade to staff the brigade with civilian craftsmen from Sanitary Commissioners Workshops Ragged Staff and provide a station opposite.
New Engine and Pump purchased and proposals made for new fire station to be built at Victoria Battery (site of present CFB H.Q.) at this time apart from a 30 foot extension ladder there was also a wheeled escape which had to be manhandled to wherever it was required.
The new fire station at Alameda Grand Parade was completed and staffed by 1 Sargent and 24 Firemen. The Superintendent Fire Brigade was the Garrison adjutant.
Captain A W Beevers, the first Professional Fire Officer to Serve in Gibraltar, was brought out to re-organise the service and place it on a war footing. In consequence the Council’s professional brigade was augmented by No. 4 Overseas Fire Brigade, complete with its own fire engines and equipment. This was further increased by the arrival of more men and appliances together with modern equipment.
In October commensurate with the run down of Military personnel the first 12 civilian recruits were signed on and trained as firemen for service with the War Department pending transfer to the City Council. In December 1946 the first Civilian Firemen ever to be employed in Gibraltar attended their first fire.
Captain W. H. Keith Hoare relinquished Military Duties and was appointed as the first Gibraltarian civilian Fire Chief of Gibraltar. He was a member of the Order of St. John and served from 1st January 1948 until the 30 June 1973 as the Chief Fire Officer.
To see photos of C.F.O Hoare during his service with the Brigade visit W.H. Keith Hoare photos
The Brigade consisted of two Watches (Red & Blue) working on a 72 hour week and each Watch was commanded by a Station Officer both of whom were UK expatriates. Eventually the services of one of these Officers was dispensed with, the strength of the Brigade increased and two local men were promoted to Sub/Officer rank to command the Watches.
Brigade split into 3 watches, Red, White and Blue and 1 more sub/Officer promoted. Working hours were reduced to 60 hours per week and later to 56 hours. The day shift working from 8 am to 5 pm (9 hours). The average turn out per year by the Brigade to fire calls and special services was approximately 300. The brigade’s equipment was gradually replaced by better and more modern engines and appliances.
Harold E Smith new Chief fire Officer arrived on replacement for Captain Keith Hoare who retired.
For the first time in the Brigade history a local member, Mr Leslie Edmonds became a Graduate of the Institute of Fire Engineers.
With the introduction of the City Fire Brigade and Fire Services Ordinance (now act) in this year the brigade standard improved both technically and practically with the aim of all officers receiving training at the Fire Service Technical College in the United Kingdom. The Fire Prevention department under the command of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer over the years steadily developed into an efficient working machine, as a result of which fire survey inspections of most: Government buildings, offices, schools, hospitals, commercial garages and petroleum installations have been carried out and the necessary recommendations made. 1976 was the year in which the City Fire Brigade adopted the current Cap Badge modelled on the UK Fire Services and said to derive from the Eight Pointed Star or Maltese Cross.
In 1980 when Mr Leslie Edmonds Q.F.S.M. took over command from H E Smith as Chief Fire Officer a new era for the City Fire Brigade started, with greater emphasis being placed on The Wide Field of emergency Services such as Cliff/Mountain Rescues etc. Underwater Divers teams were later introduced and a large variety of up to date rescue equipment obtained. He is the first Gibraltarian to have been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal on the 17th June 1997.
The Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau issued a set of four stamps to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Fire Service in Gibraltar. The 4p value depicted two Victorian firemen, the 44p a modern fireman wearing Breathing apparatus, the 20p stamp a Dennis 1940’s appliance, and the 42p showed a Range Rover 6 x 4 wheeled pump ladder appliance. The stamps were designed by a serving officer Dennis Gonzalez.
Louis Casciaro took over as Chief Fire Officer from Leslie Edmonds in 2000. He joined the service in 1979 as a Firefighter and worked his way through the ranks. He was promoted to a senior management role as Divisional Officer Operations and Training in 1995. In 1999 he was awarded a BSc from South Bank University. He is also a corporate member of the Institution of Fire Engineers, Mr Louis Casciaro retired from the service on the 15 August 2008.
In June 2009 Guillermo Mauro was promoted to the rank of Chief Fire Officer in succession to Louis Casciaro, on his retirement. Mr Mauro had been temporarily promoted as Acting Chief Fire Officer since 17 June 2008. Mr Mauro joined the City Fire Brigade as a fireman in 1980, at the age of 20 and promoted through the ranks to the post of Deputy Chief Fire Officer, which he took up on May 1 2001. He has been in the Fire Service for over 29 years and in 1991 was the first Gibraltar fire officer to attain Corporate Membership of the Institution of Fire Engineers in the United Kingdom. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. Mr Guillermo Mauro retired from the service on the 31 March 2015.
With the passing in Parliament of the Fire Service (Amendment) Act on the 20th November 2014 the City Fire Brigade passed into history and the organisation became the Gibraltar Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS).
The changes brought about by the Act amended the nomenclature changing the name of the organisation and making corresponding and consequential amendments throughout the Act to reflect the change in name. The Act also amended and updated the description of the ranks within the Service and made amendments to the penalties that may be imposed under the Act which were amended by including references to the standard scale of fines in place of monetary values.
Anthony Yusifredo became the Chief Fire Officer of the Gibraltar Fire & Rescue Service on the 1 April 2015 exactly 25 years since he joined the service. He worked his way up the ranks serving from Firefighter to Station Officer until he was promoted to the senior management post of Divisional Officer Operations and Training Department in 2013 and was responsible for all operational personnel their Training, Health & Safety and general welfare.
He is a Corporate Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers and in the holder of a BTEC Higher National Certificate in Fire Safety Engineering from the University of Central Lancashire. He holds the Level 5 Diploma in Management and Leadership of the Chartered Management Institute. In addition, he undertook the Incident Command Level 3 Advanced Commander Course in 2013 at the Fire Service College.
Colin Ramirez became Chief Fire Officer of the Gibraltar Fire & Rescue in January 2020, exactly 20 years since he joined the service. In November 2007 he obtained his first promotion to the rank of Leading Firefighter and was handed the responsibility to manage the GFRS Ambulance and First Responder Section. This was soon followed by subsequent promotions to Sub Officer and Station Officer in October 2009 and January 2011 respectively. In August 2015 was promoted to the GFRS Senior Management team as Deputy Chief Fire Officer.