Rowe was a politically active artist – in the early 1930s he made designs for
Communist Party publications and spent eighteen months travelling and
working in the Soviet Union. In 1934 he helped establish the Artists’ International
Association whose work included helping refugees from Hitler’s Germany and
providing medical aid to the British International Brigade during the Spanish
In this lithographic poster (produced to aid the war effort) Rowe depicts a
National Fire Service crew scramble to their truck in response to an ominous
glow on the horizon. With little protective gear other than a steel helmet and a
pair of gum boots these volunteers were transported in trucks equipped with
extension ladders and a trailer holding baskets to move rubble and trestles to
prop up masonry or roof structures that had collapsed.
All of the Municipal Fire and Rescue services suffered casualties during raids, not only from High Explosives dropped by the enemy, but from the falling debris from exploded shells fired by British anti-aircraft artillery batteries.
We are grateful to Andrew Cormack for assistance.