Fires Were Started (1943)

 |  Drama, War  |  12 April 1943 (UK)
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A new man joins the civilian firefighters at a London unit during the Second World War. He meets his fellow firemen and firewomen, manages to enjoy some leisure time with them, and then ... See full summary »


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Uncredited cast:
Philip Dickson ...
Walters (uncredited)
George Gravett ...
Dykes (uncredited)
Fred Griffiths ...
Johnny Daniels (uncredited)
Johnny Houghton ...
S.H. Jackson (uncredited)
Loris Rey ...
J. Rumbold (uncredited)
William Sanson ...
Fireman playing the piano (uncredited)


A new man joins the civilian firefighters at a London unit during the Second World War. He meets his fellow firemen and firewomen, manages to enjoy some leisure time with them, and then goes on his first mission with the crew as it attempts to save an explosives warehouse on Trinidad Street near the London docks. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War





Release Date:

12 April 1943 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

I Was a Fireman  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The firefighting scenes are reconstructions, not actual events. The director set fire to some already bombed buildings and the firemen demonstrated their methods of putting out a blaze. See more »


Featured in London - The Modern Babylon (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Professional and well made docu-drama
15 June 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Although I do watch a terrible load of rubbish at times, I do also make a bit of effort to make sure my viewing has a bit of rounding and significance to it. It was for this reason that I searched out a film by Humphrey Jennings. The first I found was the documentary drama looking at the service of the civilian firemen who defended London during the Blitz. The film is a mix of drama and documentary, with the story essentially being a typical day and night in the life of the crew but it is delivered with the civilians themselves rather than professional actors. The risk of this is clear but, aside from some very wooden performances, mostly it works because the majority of them are quite natural and convincing in how they are.

Jennings' approach to the telling was also a bit of a risk because the film is not just a glowing presentation of these people as flawless heroes so much as quite a realistic presentation of them and their role. The risks they take and the price some of them pay is clear from the film and it is well presented as such, even though it could have been seen as demoralising in the way that Jennings didn't glamorise them or put much more of a patriotic gloss on them. It does work really well though and I was impressed by how professional and well made the film was. The images are sharp and even the recreations of the fires look convincing.

I don't know enough to say where Fires Were Started sits in regards Jennings work but from my limited point of view it is an impressive film. By modern standards it isn't great of course but this is one of those films that can be viewed in context because it was made for a certain time and reason. This doesn't mean that if it were a bad film that I would be blind to those weaknesses though because it is still effective in what it sets out to do and is worth watching today.

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