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Chief officers and professional identities: the case of fire services in English municipal government, c.1870–1938

Shane Ewen
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  • Political Science


This article examines the changing relationship between chief officers and English municipal government between the eighteen-seventies and the nineteen-thirties, focusing specifically on the emergence of a new cadre of municipal experts, the chief fire officers. The article locates the chief officer within debates about the changing role and status of professional elites, and continues a long tradition of urban historical research through the comparative case studies of Birmingham and Leicester. It is argued that the chief fire officer's increasing indispensability to modern municipal government was shaped by a combination of functional reforms and unexpected crises, through which he established a position as the interface between the local state and civil society.

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