To mark the 350th anniversary of the Great First of London, which started in a bakery, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) has visited a historic bakery in its own county to check its fire safety plan.
London’s Great Fire, which started just after midnight on September 2, 1666, scorched 13,000 homes, gutted the City of London and lit up the sky with giant flames reaching 1,700C. Arguably the most famous blaze in history was ignited in the kitchen of the King’s personal baker, Thomas Farriner, and firefighting techniques of the time could not tackle the inferno that lasted four days.
To mark this anniversary Hampshire FRS visited The Old Bakery in Pudding Lane, Winchester. The historic building still retains its traditional steam ovens forged in London hundreds of years ago – although they are no longer in use.
Community Safety Group Manager Brian Neat gave the owners advice on kitchen safety and tested their smoke alarms to make sure their property doesn’t go up in smoke like its famous namesake.
Group Manager Neat gave kitchen safety tips to remind the couple, Dan Rye and his wife Alex, who run Stickers4, to always turn off the oven and hob after cooking, never leaving cooking unattended and ensure tea towels, electrical leads and loose clothing are kept away from these appliances.
He said: “This couple seem to have their fire plan worked out but it is through visits like this and our tips that we make communities safer.
“If the baker had followed our advice all those years ago the Great Fire would have been reduced to just a few burnt buns – that’s why Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is the best thing since sliced bread.”
The blaze – in which only six deaths were recorded – started when Farriner’s maid failed to put his oven out and it ignited his house and the surrounding properties, which were made of wood and built in close proximately to each other.
Electrical Safety First is also using the occasion to promote safety messages and highlight the fact that more than a million people have called 999 in past year due to cooking fires.
A survey carried out by the group showed almost a third of people thought it was safe to pour water on a chip pan fire, 36% admitted being distracted when cooking and a quarter of young people say they have cooked while drunk.
More than half of all accidental house fires are caused by cooking appliances.
Electrical Safety First spokesman Emma Apter said: “Our research shows that many people are making easily avoidable mistakes when they are cooking that could cause significant damage or injury. It’s also worrying that many people don’t know what to do if a fire occurs in the kitchen.”
A festival called London’s Burning has already shown flames projected onto the Dome at St Paul’s Cathedral - the lead on the original building melted and ran through the street during the fire.
A giant domino-style set of breeze blocks will also be toppled to trace the course of the fire across three and a half miles of the city.
The showcase event will be when a 120ft sculpture of a 17th century street is set afloat in The Thames and torched in front of the crowds expected to gather at the South Bank on Sunday.