Benefits of membership of the Firefighters' Company
There are two levels of membership – Freeman and Liveryman. Freemen are expected to progress to becoming Liverymen after a short period. It should particularly be mentioned that, whilst a number of ancient Companies still use the word “mistery”, Livery Companies are in no respect secret societies.
The benefits of membership of the Firefighters’ Company can be summarised as follows:
- An invitation to become a member of the Company is an honour and a privilege. The Company does not advertise for new members.
- The Company sponsors all accepted applicants to become Freemen of the City of London by redemption. This honour, whose roots go back to medieval times, includes a number of ancient rights and privileges, including an opportunity to attend Guildhall to make the Freeman’s Declaration, and the granting of a handsome certificate of Freedom, which can be framed.
- Livery Companies represent the oldest (and original) meaning of the word “Company”, meaning a fellowship of people who are dedicated to furthering the cause of, (in our case), firefighting, fire safety and life safety. Liverymen are liverymen for life and thus have the opportunity of making close personal friendships for life, a concept that is very rare in the modern world.
- The Livery Companies, which started life as trade guilds in medieval times, are in the modern world primarily philanthropic fellowships. All Companies are required to have their own charitable trust, and in our case the Firefighters’ Charitable Trust supports through financial grants a number of fire-related and other needy causes each year. This ethic runs through everything we do, via the Company’s maxim of “service, fellowship, harmony and honour”.
- Freemen and liverymen are actively encouraged to become involved with one or more of our regularly supported charities, and we try to include our charities and their needs in our activities whenever possible.
- Only Liverymen have the right to attend and vote at a number of traditional and colourful City occasions, including the election of the new Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, and Common Hall.
- The Company organises two major dinners per year, which can be attended by Liverymen and Freemen, who also have the right to invite guests. Both are held in the Livery Halls of other Companies, which are venues that are not ordinarily open to members of the public. These venues are lavishly decorated and have a fascinating history associated with them.
- New freemen and liverymen are guaranteed a warm and friendly reception into our Company; it is not necessary to know existing members.
- Liverymen and Freemen can apply for tickets to attend the annual United Guilds Service in St Paul’s Cathedral, the largest religious event in the City each year, when the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, and the Masters of the 111 Livery Companies all attend and process in their multi-coloured Livery gowns. It is always followed by lunch at the Hall of a fellow Livery Company.
- Freemen are admitted to the Company at a meeting of the Court of the Company. They swear a declaration of allegiance to the Sovereign and to the Company. They then have the opportunity, if they so wish, of attending a Court lunch.
- Freemen are expected to progress to becoming Liverymen, but first are admitted to the Freedom of the City of London by redemption.
- Freemen and Liverymen qualify if they so wish to be elected to serve on one of the committees which manage the Company’s business, and thus contribute directly to ensuring the future success of the Company.
- The Company always tries to ensure a range of interesting additional events each year. In recent years, these opportunities have included additional livery dinners, partners’ lunch, golf event and other occasions held both in the City and elsewhere. In the last few years there have been events at the East India Club, Lloyds of London and the Tower of London, as well as the Lord Mayor’s Show.
- Freemen and Liverymen are encouraged to attend a free “City Briefing” at Guildhall, which explains in more detail how the City works and the role of the Livery Companies, as well as providing an opportunity to meet members of other Companies.
- The Company holds its own Carol Service each year, followed by refreshments, which Freemen, Liverymen, their families and friends may attend.
- The Company has a close association with the Firefighters’ Memorial Charitable Trust, which commemorates firefighters killed During World War 2 and in the line of duty during peacetime since then. Freemen and Liverymen can witness the annual parade in September, from the church service to the memorial statue at St Paul’s Cathedral, which is the major event in the calendar of the Memorial Trust, of which the Princess Royal is the Patron.
- The Company is also involved in occasional additional events, such as the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Blitz in 2005.
- Once a year, the Company holds “Common Hall” at which the new Master and Wardens are installed for the coming year. This event is open to all Freemen and Liverymen, and includes a service of thanksgiving in a City church and a reception in the evening. It is an excellent occasion to keep members up-to-date with developments at the Company.
- All members of the Company receive regular communication from the Company in the form of email newsletters and “The Salamander” magazine which provides information on the activities of the Company, and which is constantly being improved.
- The Company has its own website at www.wcoff.org, and includes a calendar of events, as well as reports and photographs of recent highlights in the Company’s activities. A “members only” section is available to all members which contains further information about the Company.
The Livery Companies are almost the last bastion of history, tradition, refinement, civilised behaviour and old-fashioned fellowship in a world where such things are becoming increasingly rare. If you also think these things matter, and if you have an interest in, or connection with the Fire Service or Fire Industry, whether directly or indirectly, you would be most welcome to make an application to the Clerk at the contact details below:
Clerk to The Worshipful Company of Firefighters