FIREMEN in Hampshire have been ready to answer emergency calls for help for many decades, as these photographs from the Daily Echo archives go to show.

In the beginning it was hand pumps, then horses were used to pull firefighting equipment until the arrival of the internal combustion engine, and throughout the Second World War members of the National Fire Service were key to the nation’s survival.

These days the county’s firefighters can be called upon to assist in almost any any crisis, whether it’s a road accident, a chemical spillage, a house fire or to rescue trapped people.