Mexborough & Swinton Times May 17, 1941
Fire Watching Hitch
Conisboro’ Consider Compulsion
Hints that if the response of the general public to the Council’s appeal for volunteer fire watchers did not improve, compulsion would have to be used, were dropped at a meeting of Conisborough Urban Council on Wednesday by the Chairman of the Air Raid Precautions Committee, Coun. H. Gomersall.
Coun. Gomersall said the Minister of Home Security had pointed out the necessity for fire watchers and the Government had passed a Compulsory Order to be used where needed. In Conisborough 600 people had enrolled as fire watchers in response to the Council’s appeal, and 1.900 were needed to man the whole of the fire watching services.
They had not as yet put into operation the compulsory order. The Council had tried several times to get the public to enrol in the orthodox manner. “I think the members of the Council will realise that the situation is anything but secure”. Said Coun. Gomersall. “1,900 fire watchers are wanted in the district what we shall do to see that this number is available will probably be decided later”. He thought it only right to warn the public that they could not allow it to remain as it was.
Coun. T. Shephard asked questions regarding the Council’s employment of two men as fire watchers are the Sewage Works, and was told by the Surveyor that these men were also on duty for repair work.
Coun. Shephard said the Council could not expect people to volunteer for the job when two men were being paid by the Council for doing such duty.
“It is disgraceful the way people are hanging back”, said Coun. R. Carlin. “It is their own property and their own lives they are guarding. If they will not volunteer they can expect nothing but compulsion”.
The Chairman (Coun. B. Roberts) pointed out that in other places fire watchers had already proved their worth and the Surveyor also pointed out the danger that incendiary bombs could create if not dealt with immediately.