Researching the history of fire and fire prevention in Essex proves difficult until after the 19th century. What little is known about the relatively haphazard fire precautions that did exist before the turn of the century has had to be gleaned from casual references noted in parish records.
Some of the earliest evidence shows that fire equipment was being used as far back as 1632 when Braintree made a resolution to purchase a fire engine.
It was the Great Fire of London in 1666 which was to prove the catalyst in significantly increasing the awareness amongst parishes of the need to upgrade fire precautions. The following years saw much improvement in the County of Essex, culminating in the formation of the Essex and Suffolk Equitable Fire Office in Colchester 1802.
The Essex County Fire Brigade was inaugurated on April 1, 1948. It operated with six divisions, each with its own Divisional Mobilising Control, installed and designed by the Brigade's own technical staff.
In 1963, the Brigade was installed with its long awaited exclusive radio scheme -the previous being shared with the police - and a new workshop was completed at Lexden, Colchester - said then to be the most modern in the country.
April 1974 brought further local government reorganisation with the County Borough Fire Brigade at Southend-on-Sea being incorporated into the Essex Brigade. In 1977 a single centralised Fire Control became fully operational at Brigade Headquarters and in 1978 Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Kent officially opened the new Brigade Headquarters in Hutton.
Further reorganisation in 1985 reduced the Brigade to four Divisions and the name was changed to the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to reflect the changing role of the Service.
Ten years on, Essex Fire and Rescue reorganised once more from four to two divisions. This structure remained in place until January 2002 when, in order to reflect the increasing need for the fire service to work in closer contact with the communities, operations were reorganised once more into seven commands.