Queens Fire Service Medal
The KPFSM was replaced with 2 separate medals when, by Royal Warrant, the Queen Police Medal (QPM) and the Queens Fire Service Medal (QFSM) were instituted on 19 May 1954. The QFSM was awarded for distinguished service or, as with its predecessor, for gallantry, but only in posthumous cases. It has never been so awarded. In 1993, the gallantry category was removed when the whole system for awards was reviewed. Recipients of the QFSM for distinguished service are entitled to use the post nominals ‘QFSM’.
Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
Instituted on 1 June 1954, by Royal Warrant, the Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal was struck to be awarded to eligible uniformed members of Local Authority Fire Brigades of the United Kingdom and members of Military Fire Brigades (now the Defence Fire Service), members of the Fire Service Inspectorate, members of the British Airports Authority and other fire brigades as may be maintained by Government departments. The medal is awarded for 20 years service on recommendation of the Chief Fire Officer, who in making the recommendation for the award will take into account the overall conduct of the individual. The colours utilised in both the QFSM and the FBLSGC (‘Union Flag Red’ and ‘Bunting Yellow’) are said to represent the colours of fire.
As with the creation of the QFSM and the separate QPM, a separate Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal had been previously created in 1951.
Civil Defence Medal
One further medal that was awarded to a specific group of fire service personnel was the Civil Defence Medal. This medal was instituted by Royal Warrant on 19 January 1961 and all members of the Civil Defence organisation that existed from November 1949 to April 1968 and members of the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS), formed as a part of this civil defence organisation, were entitled to the medal that was awarded for 15 years service, with a clasp being awarded for each subsequent period of 12 years.
REVIEW OF GALLANTRY AWARDS 1994
In 1994 a revision of the British Honours system resulted in the following gallantry awards (listed in order of precedence) being designated for award to members of the fire service: George Cross, George Medal, Queens Gallantry Medal and Queens Commendation for Bravery.
The Queens Commendation for Bravery was created to replace the Queens Commendation for Brave Conduct (which had followed on from the Kings award on the accession to the throne by HM Queen Elizabeth II). As with its predecessor, the award is to recognise acts of bravery that do not merit a higher award. An Emblem of silver laurel leaves continues to be the method of denoting the award, worn directly onto the uniform jacket.
CIVIL AWARDS FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE
Members of the fire service have, and are still, eligible for a range of civil awards that are generally announced in either the New Year or Queens Birthday Honours lists.
The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem
The Order can be traced back to the Crusades in early 12th century but the revival of the Order and the basis on which it exists today stems from the early part of the 19th century and it was in fact incorporated by Royal Charter in 1888 when it was established as a British Order of chivalry with the Sovereign at its head. The Order is divided into different classes with the 2 most commonly awarded to members of the fire service being:
The Order of St John of Jerusalem Life Saving Medal was introduced in 1874 for gallantry displayed in saving a life. It can be awarded in gold, silver or bronze depending on the degree of gallantry recognised.
Additionally, the Order does award certificates and all St John awards are made by the ‘Grand Priory in Britain of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in England’.
Coronation and Jubilee Medals
Coronation Medals, struck in the form of coins, date back to the accession of King Edward VI in 1547. The first suspended ‘Royal Medal’ did not appear until 1877 when Queen Victoria was proclaimed ‘Empress of India’. After this date all commemorative Royal Medals have been suspended from a ribbon in the style of medals that we know today.
Medals have been awarded to commemorate a Jubilee since 1897 when a medal was struck to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
Since that date, the following medals have been struck:
Diamond Jubilee – Queen Victoria – 1897
Coronation – Edward VII – 1902
Coronation – George V – 1911
Silver Jubilee – George V – 1935
Coronation – George VI – 1937
Coronation – Elizabeth II – 1953
Silver Jubilee – Elizabeth II – 1977
Golden Jubilee – Elizabeth II – 2002
Diamond Jubilee – Elizabeth II – 2012
The medals awarded since the issue of the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935 all have ribbons incorporating stripes of red, white and blue in differing widths and configuration for each specific medal.
The following may also be awarded to members of the fire and rescue service in recognition of their actions at operational incidents.
The Royal Humane Society
Founded in 1774 the Society awards medals for gallantry during rescue attempts. The medals are awarded in 2 classes ‘successful’ and ‘unsuccessful’ with silver and bronze versions in each class. Once a year the Society awards ‘The Stanhope Gold Medal’ to the recipient of the silver medal whose act of gallantry is considered to be the bravest. The Society also awards certificates for the successful resuscitation of casualties.
The Society for the Protection of Life from Fire
The Society, which dates back to 1836, awards medals and certificates to recognise bravery in the rescue of people from fire. Members of the fire service are only eligible if they are off duty when a rescue is attempted or achieved.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The RSPCA may bestow awards in recognition of acts of bravery or special merit for rescues or attempted rescues of animals.
Chief Fire Officers Commendation
A Chief Fire Officers Commendation, is something that has existed in most fire and rescue services and commonly in the form of a certificate, awarded for an act or action considered worthy of note. Some have a second level of recognition as well. At least one, (Hampshire) retains their own medal awarded for gallantry.
The registers of the issue of the Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and the Queens Fire Service Medal are held by the Department for Communites and Local Government and the registers for The Defence Medal are held by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (although the latter can only check to see if a medal has already been issued to a named person).
Registers containing details of medals issued by the NFBU, PFBA, (previously the APFBO), the NFBA and the BFSA still exist and details can be obtained by contacting fire service historian and archivist, Alan House QFSM FIFire E. firstname.lastname@example.org