No bells and no whistles for 'father of firefighting'

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HE is universally recognised as the man who founded the fire service and would usually make his appearance amid a clatter of bells and whistles.

But when a statue of legendary firefighter James Braidwood arrived on the Royal Mile yesterday it was a rather more low-key affair.

Restrictions on construction work during the Edinburgh Festival meant the man credited with the creation of the modern fire service had to be on his plinth before the beginning of the annual arts extravaganza.

But the statue, which arrived clad in protective bubble wrap, will not be officially unveiled until September 5.

Frank Rushbrooke, himself a former firemaster with the Lothian and Borders brigade, has been instrumental in bringing the statue to Edinburgh.

He said: "It's been a long time coming, but it's good to finally see him up there where he belongs.

"He founded the fire service back in 1824 and it is right that he is honoured in this way."

Campaigners have fought long and hard to secure a prominent site for the statue, with their plans being continually undone by funding problems.

The official unveiling in September promises to be a grand affair, with Edinburgh University principal, Sir Timothy O'Shea, finally introducing the statue amid a procession of fire engines.

Among the guests will be Braidwood's great-great-grandson, Murray Braidwood Webster, and the 92-year-old Dr Rushbrooke.

Lord Provost George Grubb paid tribute to Dr Rushbrooke's tireless bid to bring the statue to the city.

He said: "His efforts mean that our city has a fitting tribute to the founder of the fire service as we know it today. The statue takes pride of place in Parliament Square and I'm looking forward to the official unveiling in September."

Born in Edinburgh in 1800, James Braidwood was educated at the Royal High School before entering his father's business as a builder and later qualifying as a quantity surveyor.

After two disastrous fires ruined 50 houses and seriously damaged the Tron Kirk, he worked with the city council to establish the world's first municipal fire service.

He was then hired by London Fire Brigade and killed by a falling wall while fighting the great fire of Tooley Street.

Brian Allaway, chief fire officer of Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade, said: "We are delighted that the statue of James Braidwood is finally in place and commend all those involved for their efforts in getting it to this stage.

"We look forward to the official unveiling on September 5 and will be please to see Braidwood honoured by the statue standing permanently in this prestigious place."

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