Frank Arthur Bailey 180Members of London Fire Brigade have given a guard of honour at the funeral of London's first post-war black firefighter.

Frank Arthur Bailey came to London from Guyana in 1953 and, in a time when records suggest "FRS didn't hire black people", he joined West Ham Fire Brigade in 1955 and served at Silvertown Fire Station.

Although there is anecdotal information about black firefighters during WWII, it is believed Bailey was the first full time black firefighter and quite possibly the first in the country.

Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "Frank was a pioneer and rightly challenged the outdated practices prevalent at the time.

"He played an enormous role in the history of black firefighters in this country and his legacy is still felt today as we strive to make London Fire Brigade reflect the diverse communities it serves. As the Brigade celebrates its 150th year we will fittingly mark Frank’s passing and his contribution to our history."

In addition to his full time role, Bailey was an active trade unionist and became branch secretary at his station and counted the then FBU General Secretary, John Horner as a close friend.

Upon leaving the Brigade in 1965, he become a social worker and the first black legal advisor to black youths at Marylebone Magistrates Court.

FBU National Secretary for Black & Ethnic Minority Members Michael Nicholas added: "A chance encounter between his daughter Alexis and an FBU London official in 2000 brought Frank to our attention.

"His knowledge and passion for black self-organisation and progression in our society remains an inspiration to us today and he is rightly thought of as the father of black firefighting in this country and should not be forgotten."

Bailey passed away on the 2nd December 2015, six days after his 90th birthday. He is survived by his three daughters.

Picture courtesy of @londonfire