A superb local 'Exeter' interest medal group of 3: Captain and Chief Officer William Pett, Exeter Fire Brigade, and patriarch of a famous fire-fighting family, including Fire Chiefs in Shanghai and Singapore
a). Association of Professional Fire Brigade Officers Long Service Medal. With 2 x ‘10 Years’ clasp (Chief Officer. W. Pett. 1911.)
b). National Fire Brigades Association LSM. Silver, with '20 Years' top bar (2812 William Pett)
c). Fireman’s Exhibition 'Royal Aquarium Westminster' Medal. Silver engraved (Awarded to W. Pett. May 14th. 1886.)
Note: The NFBA medal with impressed number and engraved naming on the rim
Obituary: A portrait titled photograph of Captain and Chief Officer William Pett, in uniform with medals up, was published together with a detailed obituary in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette issue of 20 July 1934, which latter we are quoting below:
Death of Former Exeter Fire Brigade Chief.
Forty Years in the Service of the City.
The death took place at his residence, Old-Tiverton road, Exeter, on Sunday, of Mr. William Pett, aged 76, who for forty years, was Superintendent of the Exeter Fire Brigade, retiring in 1927. Mr. Pett was taken ill while in his garden, and died almost immediately on being taken indoors. The death of Mr. Pett removes one, who, up to a few years ago, was an exceedingly well-known figure in the municipal life of the city, and his passing severs a link with the Exeter of days gone by.
STARTED AS MESSENGER.
Commencing his career as a messenger boy for the Sevenoaks Fire Engine Association - of which his father was a member - at the age of 15, Mr. Pett became a fireman three years later, and retained an unbroken record with the fire-fighting services until his retirement as chief of the Exeter Brigade. He obtained his appointment in 1888, the year following the disastrous theatre fire, and after several years' service as an engineer of the London Fire Brigade, and he immediately set himself the task of reorganising the Exeter Brigade. By his capacity for organisation and his enthusiasm, he raised the brigade to a very high standard of efficiency, and himself became one of the best known fire chiefs throughout the country.
Apart from his local activities, he rendered valuable service in the interest of the fire services. He was founder of the South-West District of the of the National Fire Brigades' Union, and acted as Hon. Secretary and Treasurer. He invented the "hose suspending elbow" for fighting a fire from elevated positions, and the apparatus came into general use. The National Fire Brigades' Union's decoration for services rendered was conferred upon Mr. Pett in 1919.
Mr. Pett retired from active service with the Exeter Brigade, in March, 1927, and was presented by citizens with a cheque for £100, a gold watch, and an illuminated address. In 1929, Mr. Pett was awarded the firemans V.C. - a medal of gold and silver, inlaid with the Union Jack - the presentation being made by Lord Ampthill on behalf of the citizens. Mr. C. T. K. Roberts, who handed over the gifts, recalled that when Mr. Pett was appointed chief fire officer there was no municipal fire brigade, the only fire fighting appliances in the city being owned by two insurance companies. The City Council, he said, were stirred to action because of a considerable string of disastrous fires, including that of the theatre, in which nearly 200 persons perished.
Mr. Pett participated in many competitions in all parts of the country, and was the winner of numerous prizes for fire escape and engine work. One of his chief honours was in winning the special single man engine drill at the Fireman's Exhibition at the Royal Aquarium, London, in, May 1886. He was also first for the fire engine drill at the all-England competition at Southampton, and too part in the great demonstration of fire brigades before Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle, and at Oxford before the then Prince of Wales (the late King Edward VII). At the National Fire Brigades Review at the Crystal Palace, he was one of the commanding officers selected for presentation to the German Emperor.
In the days gone by Mr. Pett was a keen cricketer, and had played for Devon and Exeter, and before coming to the city, for Kent Colts.
Although a Kent man by birth, Mr. Pett had Devon ancestors, one of these being Vicar of Totnes in the 17th century. For over 20 years the Petts were master shipwrights to the Royal Navy at Chatham. Mr. Pett made an interesting collection of fire relics, and when the new fire station at Dane's Castle was provided for Exeter, he and Mrs. Pett presented pictures of themselves to hang in the new quarters.
Mrs. Pett, besides her interest in her husband's work, has also a fine record of activity for the Exeter Voluntary Aid detachments. of one of which she is commandant.
There are two sons - Mr. Montague Pett, Chief of the Fire Brigade in Shanghai, and Mr. Algernon Pett, who is in South Africa.
The funeral takes place to-day. The interment at the Higher Cemetery at 12.15 will be preceded by a service at the house at noon.
Not only was one of William Pett's sons the Fire Chief at Shanghai, China, but his son-in-law, held the post of Fire Chief of the Singapore Fire Brigade, at a time when Singapore was the leading trade entrepot amongst the Straits Settlements
The Essex newspapers circa 1888-1934, and packed with numerous articles pertaining to William Pett and the services of his Exeter Fire Brigade
A truly remarkable record of family service as 'Fire Chief's, and of considerable, Exeter local history interest
Condition: Mostly VF