Who was Frank Bailey? Google Doodle honors London’s First Black Firefighter


Today’s Google Doodle honours Frank Bailey, the first full-time black firefighter of post-war London.

Frank Bailey came to London from Guyana in 1953 and joined West Ham Fire Brigade a few years later after hearing black people ‘were not employed by the fire service’.

London Fire Brigade said it believed Frank was the first full time black firefighter in London, and possibly the first in the country.

In 2007 Frank described the challenges and obstacles he faced getting a job as a firefighter.

“I was told that the authorities were not hiring black men because they were not strong enough physically or well enough educated to do the job,” he said.

I immediately recognised racism and said I’m going to apply to be a firefighter and see if they find me unfit. “I saved a fellow firefighter’s life when he fainted while we were on the fifth floor of a ladder drill session. “I brought him down to the ground in a fireman’s lift. The guy’s weight was 16 stone and he was 6’2.

Frank Bailey, speaking in 2007

Frank passed away on the 2nd December 2015, six days after his 90th birthday.


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