THE doors have opened on a new museum celebrating the history and work of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.
And Chief Officer Brian Sweeney was on hand to mark the occasion, which he said was important to mark Strathclyde Fire and Rescue before it becomes part of the Scottish Fire Service.
Based in Greenock's original Victorian fire station, the museum features old hand-drawn pumps and the first breathing apparatus sets to today's state-of-the-art safety equipment.
Mr Sweeney said: "The opening of this museum could not have come at a more appropriate moment – as we move towards a single Scottish Fire Service, which will herald the end of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue as a separate entity.
"Thanks to the work of the Preservation Group, the equipment and vehicles in the museum have been lovingly restored and are in working order, ensuring these exhibits will be preserved for generations to come."
Put together by the brigade's Preservation Trust, there are also displays on major incidents tackled by firefighters over the years, including the Cheapside, Kilbirnie Street and Stockline disasters and the terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport.
Among the exhibits are old 'fire marks', metal plaques issued by insurance companies to identify which buildings they covered.
If rival brigades turned up to a building that did not display their fire mark they would not help put out the blaze – and often try to hinder the work of the other firemen.
Marks were originally made of lead, followed in the 1800s by copper and then iron and tin.
The fire marks on display were collected by Alexander Nisbet, Firemaster of Lanarkshire Fire Brigade until he retired in 1962.
The collection was displayed for a time in the Scottish Fire Service Training College, at Gullane, and are now shown courtesy of Firemaster Nisbet's family.
Another exhibit shows how, in the days before breathing apparatus, firefighters would grow moustaches and breathe through them when they were in a fire as a basic air filter.
The museum is the result of a partnership between Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, Inverclyde Council and the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Preservation Group.
And Mr Sweeney said the museum was a valuable asset as the brigade begins a new era in firefighting.
Mr Sweeney added: "As we face the dawn of a new era in firefighting, it is more important than ever that we remember previous generations of firefighters and honour the courage and dedication they have shown – qualities displayed by firefighters today which will continue to be exemplified by the firefighters of tomorrow."