A 17th century fire door inspector?

On 2 September 1666, the Great Fire of London ripped through the city’s streets. Fire doors hadn’t been invented yet. But was there a budding fire door inspector looking on?

Everyone knows the Great Fire of London story: a small bakery on Pudding Lane caught fire shortly after midnight on Sunday 2 September 1666. The fire quickly engulfed the City of London, destroying 13,000 homes and narrowly missing Westminster.

Watching the event unfold – and painstakingly recording every detail in his diary – was English naval administrator and member of parliament, Samuel Pepys.

Pepys’ diary is now famous across the world as a first-hand account of life in 17th century England. But do his scribblings reveal the skills we now look for in modern day fire door inspectors? He was observant and thorough in his recording, and even made recommendations to King Charles II about how to improve fire safety.

Could Samuel Pepys have been the 17th century’s answer to an FDIS Certificated Inspector?

Probably not. But FDIS scheme manager, Kevin Hulin, agrees that Pepys had the makings of a diligent fire safety professional.

“Being highly observant and thorough are basic skills that every fire door inspector must have,” said Kevin. “Samuel Pepys’ diary shows that he was an incredibly observant man and his recommendations to the king on the night of the Great Fire no doubt helped inform new ways of tackling fires in the capital.

“As fire safety professionals in the 21st century, we can certainly learn a lot from Pepys and his approach to documenting the issues he saw and suggesting improvements.”

This year’s Fire Door Safety Week will help to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London.

>> Visit the Fire Door Safety Week website