Telephone 080

History

From the start of the world fire has existed; always from different perspectives, adored as a natural phenomenon, appreciated as been God-given allowing man to defend himself, feared for its destructive power... as well as from the start looked upon to be dominated and combated.

The history of the Barcelona Fire Service began many years ago. There has been an infinite number of fires and anecdotes to tell, but there is not enough space in these lines to tell them all. From the middle of 19th Century, in 1865 to be precise, a company of firemen was formed in the City of Barcelona, an embryo, that, through the years, has become the Fire Brigade of today with many more spheres of operations, the best prepared personnel and the highest technology in equipment.

Here is a brief review of the events that have happened in our city and the development of our institution, in order to know how and why we have reached the Fire Brigade that we have today.

1379
25th December, the great fire of de Santa Maria del Mar church, the first reported (Bruniquer rubriques).
1391
August, volunteer brigades extinguish the fires from disputes with the Jews, which occurred throughout Spain.
1439
February, we put out a fire at the convent of Sant Francesc d'Assís.
1606
March, great fire of the plaça de la Llana, which took up to and all of Easter Sunday to put out.
1608
April, the Barcelona Councillors claim, for the first time (although there are documents still surviving) to make an announcement to all bricklayers and carpenters to put out a large fire at the Customs House (currently Palau Reial).
1640
June, festival of Corpus Christi (Day of the followers) when a restless mob want to burn the many officials and royal functionaries' houses.
1652
Intense bombardments on behalf of Felip IV on the city of Barcelona by Louis XIII of France.
1705
September, War of Succession of Archduke Carlos. Barcelona is repeatedly bombarded by the allies.
1716
Following the surrender of Barcelona, under Felipe V, after the War of Succession of September 1714, the Captain General of Catalonia Marquès de Castel Rodrigo, publicises (1716) a decree to renew the order to oblige, in the event of a fire, all churches in the district to ring their bells to warn the locals , bricklayers and carpenters, so that they can go to the fire or else be fined. If it was a large fire and is dangerous, the army has to attend the fire as well.
1718
Law of the RC of 13th October 1718 (the Nova Planta Decree) councillors are obliged to attend fires. Also they are going to change their name to Ministers.
1778
Following a fire in Zaragoza, the first State law is published obliging all local authorities to make doors open outwards, in the direction of the exit. Therefore, together with other rules, we could say that the principle of prevention is beginning.

Back to period selection

1825
The Company of Firemen is constituted with 25 men on the orders of the municipal architect.
1833
After passing the Rule Of Functioning, the Captain General Manuel Llauder nominates the municipal architect, Josep Mas i Vila, as head of the Company of Firemen, therefore the first head of the Fire Service (then, known as the Society of Mutual Insurance).
1835
Large disturbances attributed to the Carlists begin at the Plaça de braus in Barceloneta, ending in a large number of buildings being burned down. Five religious convents are also burned down.
1839
The Council organises the company of firemen.
1840
Steam engines are introduced in Barcelona, considerably increasing the number of fires.
1842
Barcelona is bombarded by General Espartero.
1845
The management of the company is shared, having two heads, one nominated by the Mutual and the other by the council.
1861
9th April, the great fire that completely destroys the Gran Teatre del Liceu. The intense fire completely destroys the building within three hours.
1865
Barcelona now has 200,000 inhabitants, the Fire Brigade is to come under council control.
1877
March, a fire in Hospital St kills Subaltern Joan Klein i Noriega, first official victim documented by the Fire Service. A steam pump is bought from Merryweather (London).
1883
Acquisition of the Porta ladder, an Italian 22 metre ladder, the first of such to be acquired by the Fire Brigade.
1888
First Universal Exposition of Barcelona, bringing a qualitative improvement in many ways, including the acquisition of different steam pumps and the improvements in fire fighting installations in the road network (fire hydrants).
1892
The larger the city, the better the Fire Service's material becomes and three emergency vehicles are acquired from Leon-Renault in Paris (now in the Fire Service museum). The Fire Brigade receive their flag from the mayor of Barcelona, Manuel Porcar i Tió.
1893
The Barcelona Fire Service go to Santander to the fire of Vapour Cabo Machichaco which causes many deaths and destroys many houses.

Back to period selection

1906
June, the Teatre de les Arts in Floridablanca St burns down.
1907
First mechanical traction vehicle, a lorry from Durkopp & Co of Bielefeld (Germany).
1908
August, important fire which destroys the Teatre Principal de Gràcia.
1909
27th August, revolutionaries burn down the parish church of Sant Pau, the Escoles Pies building, the Jeronimes convent, the churches of Sant Cugat and Santa Madrona, among others, in what has become to be known as the Tragic Week.
1910
Acquisition of the first Hispano-Suiza, which will be in service until the end of 1932.
1915
November, fire at the Teatre Principal de la Santa Creu in the Rambla.
1917
Acquisition of 5 Ford 18HP Fords...
1922
In a large modernisation of the service, the Barcelona Fire Service buys Delahaye vehicles, currently preserved in very good condition in the Fire Service Museum, which annually participates in the Reis cavalcade and the Sitges Rally. The vehicle is affectionately known as "Genoveva".
1924
May, the Nuevo Vulcano workshops burn down, an important fire attended by the King and the President of the Military Council, Primo de Rivera. Also a train derailment at Les Planes, with 13 dead and many injured.
1927
Modernising, the Service acquires vehicles at a cost of 623,000 ptas.
1928
The emergency numbers change, the Fire Service changes from 3000 to 12345.
1929
June, as part of the Universal Exposition there is an important parade on the Passeig de Gràcia to Alfons XIII St (today Diagonal), attended by important people such as the Honourable President Macià and the Captain General of Catalonia Emili Barrera,the Civil Governor Milans del Bosch, the President of the Council Comte de Montseny and the mayor of Barcelona Baró de Viver. In October the parade is repeated attended by King Alfons XIII and his children.
1932
December, during Republican times the El Siglo shops burn down, an event that was followed intently by the people and press of Barcelona because of their popularity. What is known as the Central Station or rather the Park de l'Eixample is built.
1933
The Teatre Principal de la Santa Creu burns down again, the fire destroys the whole of the interior, the building is saved.

Back to period selection

1936
July, this era, before and after are marked by a national uprising and the Spanish Civil War ending in 1939. During this month there are many call-outs to churches and convents, attacks, sabotages etc.
1937
February 13th, first shelling of the city of Barcelona. 16th March the city suffers its first aerial bombardment, continuing for the next few months.
1938
January, March. During these months the bombardments are very intense (70 in January and 103 in March).
1946
Creation of the Cultural and Sporting Group of the Fire Service, popularly known as "La Cultural".
1949
First issue of the magazine Alarma.
1961
Fire at the Palau del Cinema on Via Laietana on Easter Sunday.
1962
Large floods produce a lot of damage. During the winter heaviest snowfalls ever recorded in Barcelona.
1963
Very spectacular fire at the Myrurgia factory. In September a fire at a plastics factory on Rector Triadó St killing two firemen.
1969
The Barcelona Fire Service attends an explosion at the Repesa petroleum deposit, where 167,000 metric tonnes of petrol burns.
1970
Fire at Radio, killing three firemen.
1972
March, gas explosion on Capità Arenas St causing the collapse of a storey building and the death of 14 people.
1973
June, spectacular fire at the Torre Telefònica in Plaça de Catalunya.
1974
A fire in les Tàpies St killing 16 people, the ferocity of the fire was so great that it is feared that it will spread throughout the whole district of Raval. In the same year a fireman is killed during the Montjuïc motorcycle race. Accident at the Virrei Amat underground station, more than 200 people injured.

Back to period selection

1976
Spectacular rescue of people trapped in the Torre de Colom, when the lift breaks down. The Fire Brigade is militarised because of a strike.
1978
Fire destroys one the most emblematic places in Barcelona, l'Escala.
1980
Opening of the Fire Laboratory of the Barcelona Fire Service.
1981
June, spectacular and destructive fire in the city centre, burning down the Àliga shops.
1983
For the first time, the Barcelona Fire Service reaches more than 10,000 call-outs.
1987
May, fire at the Sarrià Hotel, with the death of one fireman. June, ETA attacks at Hipercor, in total 25 people die and many more seriously injured. Also this year, the fire and total collapse of the Duarry factory is highlighted because of its importance.
1990
November, because of the collapse of the Turó de la Peira St, the city fire service receives the first call out on what will come to be considered as the first case of aluminises. December , gas explosion in Comte Borrell St. Affects three blocks of flats and despite its spectacular nature and size, only three people are killed.
1991
A remarkable year with more than 15,000 call-outs by the citizens of Barcelona.
1993
October, large fire, because of its size and height and because the construction material at the Autopistes de la Galla Placídia building.
1994
Large fire which, as in previous years, results in the destruction of the Liceu theatre.

Back to period selection

1995
22.04: Fire at the DUSCHOLUX factory. Fireman Antonio Redondo dies.
1996
Fire in the container ship Vento di Scirocco.
1996
19.07: Explosion at the REPSOL bottling plant with one fatality.
1997
27.01: Fire in the Torre Urquinaona building (22-storey tower block).
1998
With Antoni Clavero as fire chief, change of name from Extinction and Rescue Services (SEIS) to Prevention, Extinction and Rescue Services (SPEIS) to show a clear commitment to prevention.
1999
1st firemen's race "Cursa de Bombers" in Barcelona.
2000
Inauguration of the Vall d'Hebron fire station. Closing of the Poble Sec (Carrer Lleida) fire station and the "Fire Laboratory".
2001
21.04: Terrible fire at the Mercat de les Flors.
2001
June. First issue of the magazine Fahrenheit 451.
2002
30.01: Explosion on Carrer Eduard Toda, with the collapse of a four-storey building, three fatalities and damage to neighbouring buildings.
2002
25.06: Fire on the ship LAMU with one fatality.
2003
World Police and Fire Games. Inauguration of the Llevant Fire Station.
2004
Integration of the Prevention Division of Barcelona Fire Brigade and Civil Defence.
2004
31.09: Collision in the underground with one person (the driver) trapped.
2005
27.01: Subsidence in the Carmel district leaving a hole 20 metres wide and 25 metres deep.
2006
Joint emergency headquarters set up in Barcelona with the Guardia Urbana and Mossos d'Esquadra.
2006
Josep Maria Jordan, Fire Chief from 1962 to 1981, dies.