"Fire Down Below" is a fine, jolly cheerful song of the seaman's worst enemy. In fact it is so jolly, it cannot be taken seriously. Andrew Gant describes this song as "traditional English sea shanty" in his Folk Songs of the British Isles
. Funnily enough, I have never found reference to it in any book of sea songs. We sing it with a lot of gusto in the Vegesack Whalermen at a fairly rapid pace.
Fire at sea is a pretty serious business and I well remember several fires both major and minor on my beloved H.M.S. Victorious between 1959 and 1967 and of a most disastrous fire on the USS Coral Sea in 1964. Well, aircraft carriers are dangerous places, what with all the hectic, fuel and ammunition. the last thing anyone wants is fire!