Fire Down Below



George Pattison
Cape de Couedie Lighthouse
Kangaroo Island
South Australia
4 Dec 1924 (and 1941)

Clive Carey SS417

Fire in the main-top,
Fire down below!
Run out the fire hose,
Though it’s hail and snow
Oh fire! Down below!

Work for your life or
You’re going to Davey Jones
And a big fat shark
Will gobble up your bones

Fire in the stokehole
Fire in the galley
So fire in hell
And fire and rally

So it’s fire for your life
Fire for your death
It’s fire for your food
Fire for your breath

This is a pumping shanty and in the days of wooden ships it would have been heard almost continuously. This type of song had to be jerky in rhythm to match the jumpy motion of the rocker bars. This song does not appear in Hugill’s collection but a different version is included in his Shanties of the Seven Seas.