Kent Fire and Rescue Service

Kent Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory fire and rescue service for the administrative county of Kent and the unitary authority area of Medway, covering a geographical area south of London, to the coast and including major shipping routes via the Thames and Medway rivers. The total coastline covered is 225 km (140 mi); it has 55 fire stations, and 4 district fire safety offices. The FRS provides emergency cover to a population of nearly 2 million.[1]

Kent Fire and Rescue Service
Operational area
Country United Kingdom
Country England
County Kent
Agency overview
Facilities and equipment
Official website

The area meets the boundaries of the London Fire Brigade to the north of the county, Surrey to the north west and East Sussex to the south west of Kent.


The first fire brigade appeared in Kent in 1802 when the Kent Fire Office formed an insurance brigade in Deptford (which was at the time part of Kent). In the same year, and completely separately from insurance companies, Hythe became the first town in Kent to set up its own fire brigade, followed by Ashford in 1826.

By the 20th century, it was quite fashionable for local authorities to have their own fire brigades. Maidstone had seen the formation of its borough fire brigade in 1901 when the Royal Insurance Company provided a new Shand Mason horse-drawn steam fire engine, named The Queen. This company had taken over the Kent Fire Office in the same year, simultaneously disbanding their own brigade. Things often became very competitive between individual town and village brigades, in many instances, each one trying to outdo its neighbour. In 1910, Bromley became the first town in Kent to house motorised fire engines, with two new Merryweather vehicles being stationed there.

Until 1938, the provision of a fire brigade was a discretionary power, and naturally there were a few local authorities that regarded it as an unnecessary expense. However, due to the threat of war, Parliament enacted the Fire Brigades Act 1938 and made it a duty and so created over 1,600 individual fire authorities across the nation. It was these local brigades and the Auxiliary Fire Service – also formed in 1938 – that valiantly coped with the consequences of the Battle of Britain and much of The Blitz. In August 1941, local brigades and the AFS were absorbed into one organisation called The National Fire Service. It was in 1941 that the current Headquarters house The Godlands was requisitioned for war-time use by the National Fire Service and it has remained with the fire service ever since.

World War II brought dark days indeed for Kent fire-fighters. Fire-fighting has been and will probably always be a dangerous occupation, and the Roll of Honour 1899-1990, compiled by Geoffrey Cooper, an ex-Kent fire-fighter, details the deaths of Kent fire-fighters while on duty. Of the 122 'Kent' names listed, 15 were pre-1939, 16 were post-1939 and 91 died during World War II. Nationally, well over 1,000 fire-fighters died during World War II, with stories of fire stations and the water supplies needed for fire-fighting being targeted by German bombers, to maximise the damage caused by incendiary bombs. The last death on duty of a Kent fire-fighter was in 1990.

The fire service was returned to local authority control on 1 April 1948 under the Fire Services Act 1947, with responsibility in England and Wales being given to the 146 counties and county boroughs of the day. The County of Kent and the City and County Borough of Canterbury combined to form Kent Fire Brigade, taking over 79 fire stations from the National Fire Service.

Subsequent local government reorganisations have had their effect upon the brigade, most significantly in 1965 when eight fire stations in the northwest of the county were transferred to the newly created Greater London area. Further reorganisation in 1974 saw Canterbury lose its county borough status and the fire brigade became the exclusive responsibility of Kent County Council. In 1998, the structure of local government changed again and Kent combined with the new Medway Towns unitary authority for fire brigade provision.

On 1 October 2003, Kent Fire Brigade was renamed Kent Fire and Rescue Service to better reflect the requirements demanded of it for many years. These changes were reflected nationally by the enactment of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 which came into effect on 1 October 2004.

In the spring of 2011, Kent Fire and Rescue underwent changes to its structure, these included restructuring from three divisions to 5 area groups: North Kent, East Kent, West Kent, South Kent and Mid Kent. Each group consists of a number of clusters, which are made up of a number of certain stations where resources are locally managed. The Letter prefix for each division was dropped in the station call sign, for instance Swanley, under the old system was named as Station S31 the S standing for South Division, now it is just Station 31.

Fire Stations/Appliances

Station Callsign Station Name Duty System Appliances
K11AshfordWholetime/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x HRP, 1x WrT, 1x WrC*, 1x TL, 1x IRU
K12ChilhamRetained1x WrT
K13WyeRetained1x WrT
K14CharingRetained1x RP
K15AldingtonRetained1x WrT
K16DoverWholetime/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x WrT, 1x CSU*
K18WhitfieldRetained1x WrT
K19FolkestoneWholetime/Cross-Crewed*1x HRP, 1x WrT, 1x GPV, 1x SWRU+IRBt*
K20New RomneyRetained1x WrT
K21HytheRetained1x WrT, 1x FFU
K22DymchurchRetained1x WrT
K23LyddRetained1x RP
K24CranbrookRetained1x WrT
K25HawkhurstRetained1x WrT
K26TenterdenRetained1x WrL
K30DartfordWholetime/Cross-Crewed*1x HRP, 1x RP, 1x L4V+ATV*
K31SwanleyRetained1x WrT
K33SwanscombeRetained1x WrT
K34Ash-Cum-RidleyRetained1x WrL
K35Thames-SideWholetime/Cross-Crewed*1x HRP, 1x WrT, 1x PCV, 1x CSU, 1x PM+MDD*
K36CliffeRetained1x WrT
K37HooRetained1x WrT, 1x CRV
K38GrainRetained1x WrT, 1x CRV
K39StroodWholetime/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x GPV, 1x WrC, 1x PM+BFU*,1x L4V
K42GillinghamRetained1x WrT
K43ChathamWholetime/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x PM+ISU
K44RainhamRetained1x WrT
K45SittingbourneDay-Crewed/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x WrT, 1x CSU*, 1x PM+ICCU*
K46TeynhamRetained1x WrT, 2x GPV
K48SheppeyDay-Crewed/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x WrT, 1x L4V, 1x GPV, 1x SWRU+IRBt*
K49EastchurchRetained1x WrL, 1x CRV
K50RochesterWholetime1x HRP
K60MaidstoneWholetime/Cross-Crewed*1x HRP, 1x RPL, 1x TL, 1x GPV, 1x CSU*, 1x DIM*, 1x PM+MDD*
K61Maidstone USARWholetime5x PM+5x USAR Pods, 1x SDU, 1x GPV
K62LenhamRetained1x WrT
K63HeadcornRetained1x WrT
K64MardenRetained1x WrT
K65LarkfieldWholetime/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x WrT, 1x WrC, 1x L4V, 2x GPV, 1x SWRU+IRBt*
K67Borough GreenRetained1x WrT
K68SevenoaksDay-Crewed/Retained1x HRP, 1x WrT
K69WesterhamRetained1x WrT
K70EdenbridgeRetained1x WrL, 1x CRV
K72TonbridgeDay-Crewed/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x WrT, 1x SWRU+IRBt*
K73Paddock WoodRetained1x WrT, 1x CRV
K74Tunbridge WellsWholetime/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x WrT, 2x GPV, 1x WMU*
K76SouthboroughRetained1x WrT, 1x GPV
K80CanterburyWholetime/Cross-Crewed*1x HRP, 1x RPL, 1x TL, 1x PM+ISU*
K81AlyeshamRetained1x WrT
K83WinghamRetained1x WrT
K84FavershamDay-Crewed/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x WrT, 1x WMU*, 1x ARU*, 1x L4V+BASU*
K85WhitstableDay-Crewed/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x WrT, 1x L4V, 1x SWRU+IrbT*, 2x PM+HVP*, 1x Pod for HVHL*
K86Herne BayWholetime/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x RPL, 1x WrT, 1x PCV, 1x L4V+ATV*
K87MargateWholetime/Retained1x RPL, 1x WrT
K88WestgateRetained1x WrT, 1x GPV
K89Thanetnow closed and used as Training Centre
K90RamsgateWholetime/Retained1x HRP, 1x WrT
K91DealDay-Crewed/Retained/Cross-Crewed*1x HRP, 1x WrT, 1x LiRU*
K92EastryRetained1x WrT, 1x CRV
K93SandwichRetained1x WrT

Fire Appliance Glossary/Callsigns

  • Water Tender (WrT): P1
  • Rescue Pump Ladder (RPL): R3/P1
  • Rescue Pump Platform (RPP): R1
  • Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP): A1
  • Turntable Ladder (TL): A1
  • Swift Water Rescue Unit + Inshore Rescue Boat (SWRU+IRBt): B1
  • Command Support Unit (CSU): C1
  • Fire Fogging Unit (FFU): M1
  • Animal Rescue Unit (ARU): R2
  • Line Rescue Unit (LiRU): R2
  • Water Carrier (WrC): W1
  • Water Management Unit (WMU): W1
  • General Purpose Vehicle (GPV): T1/T2/T3
  • General Purpose Vehicle + Breathing Apparatus Support Unit (GPV+BASU): T1
  • Light 4x4 Vehicle + All Terrain Vehicle (L4V+ATV): T1
  • Personnel Carrier Vehicle (PCV): T1/T2
  • Prime Mover + High Volume Pump (PM+HVP): T8
  • Prime Mover + High Volume Hose Layer (PM+HVHL): T9
  • Prime Mover + Incident Command & Control Unit (PM+ICCU): T1
  • Prime Mover + Incident Support Unit (PM+ISU) T4

CBRN Response

  • Detection, Identification, & Monitoring (DIM): H8
  • Incident Response Unit (IRU): H9
  • Prime Mover + Mass Decontamination Disrobe (PM+MDD): T9

Urban Search & Rescue (USAR)

  • Search & Rescue Dog Unit (SDU): R9
  • General Purpose Vehicle (GPV): T1
  • Prime Mover (PM): T5/T6/T7/T8/T9


  • Module 1 - Technical Search Equipment
  • Module 2 - Heavy Transport, Confined Space & Hot Cutting
  • Module 3 - Breaching & Breaking Equipment
  • Module 4 - Multi Purpose Vehicle
  • Module 5 - Shoring Operations


Kent Fire and Rescue Service works in partnership with the South East Coast Ambulance Service to provide emergency medical cover to select areas of Kent. Dymchurch, Eastchurch, Eastry, Hoo, Canterbury, Whitstable and Paddock Wood, have been identified as having a greater need for ambulance cover. The aim of a co-responder team is to preserve life until the arrival of either a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) or an Ambulance. Co-Responder Vehicles are equipped with:

  • Defibrillator
  • Bag and mask resuscitator
  • Oxygen
  • Airways suction units
  • Standard first aid equipment

See also


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