The stirrup pump was distributed to the family households for the initial tackling fires started by incendiary bombs, also. They were the first line of defence for a group of people that were organised as Fire Watchers, later the name was changed to Fire Guards, but come what may the original term of going on fire watching stuck!
On the night of Sunday the 29th of December 1940 the city of London, was devastated by incendiary bombs. Offices and buildings had been locked up over the weekend and were left unattended. This made it more difficult for the Fire and rescue services.
As a result, the Fire Watchers scheme began in January 1941. It was made compulsory to have person or persons on guard in buildings 24 hours in prescribed areas. To put out incendiary bombs, and to call for help. This provided difficult for many establishments to staff. This led the government to implement a compulsory scheme of fire watching.
Fire Watching teams were originally called Street Fire Party's. They adopted their official title of Fire Guards. In August 1941. Men and women between the ages of 16 and 30 and 20 and 45 respectively, were likely to be called up for fire duty. Volunteers were encouraged from men up to 70 and women to the age of 60.
Stirrup pumps were distributed one to each home or building, you could purchase an extra stirrup pump from your local ironmonger for 15 shillings. On the side, these Stirrup pumps were quite often used by the families to spray their garden or do the watering. Besides, the Stirrup pumps, families were encouraged to keep buckets of Sand handy. To smother incendiary fires to exclude any air from the burning manganese or similar material.