The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service today marked the anniversary of the Cheapside Street disaster that claimed the lives of 19 firefighters in Glasgow.
A memorial service was held at the city’s Necropolis this morning (Wednesday, March 28) to remember those who were killed in what remains the largest peacetime loss of life ever suffered by Britain’s fire and rescue services.
On the evening of March 28, 1960 a blaze tore through a whisky bond with an explosion sending its 20-metre-high (60ft) walls crashing to the street below.
Fourteen Glasgow Fire Service and five Glasgow Salvage Corps members perished as they worked to protect the public from the inferno.
Chief Officer Alasdair Hay told those gathered at the memorial: “That fateful night was a critical event in the history of this city, and in the history of the fire and rescue service.
“We remember them all as professional firefighters and colleagues –but also as fathers, husbands, brothers and sons.
“We can never forget those men who paid the ultimate price to protect the public, or the loved ones whose lives were shattered by a devastating loss.”
The 14 Glasgow Fire Service personnel who died at Cheapside Street were sub-officers James Calder and John McPherson and firemen Christopher Boyle, William Crocket, Archibald Darroch, Alexander Grassie, Geroge McIntyre, Daniel Davidson, Edward McMillan, Alfred Dickinson, William Watson, John Allan, Gordon Chapman, and Iain McMillan.
Also lost were the Glasgow Salvage Corps’ Deputy Chief Salvage Officer Edward Murray, Leading Salvageman James Mclellan, and salvagemen Gordon McMillan, William Oliver, James Mungall.
Chief Officer Hay added: “The fire and rescue service exists to keep communities safe – and every single day, firefighters across the world risk put their lives on the line to protect others from harm.
“This selfless dedication and bravery knows no bounds, and is engrained in every firefighter.
“It’s what drives men and woman across the world to join fire and rescue services.
“It’s what drives people to stand on the frontline, in some of the most challenging and perilous environments imaginable.
“The Cheapside street fire was undoubtedly such an environment.”
He continued: “Since the Second World War, more than 300 firefighters have lost their lives in the line of duty in Britain – each loss reminds us of the dangers they face each and every day.
“Our history undoubtedly helps to shape who we are, and who we want to be.
“I am proud to say, with the utmost sincerity, that the extraordinary spirit and bravery of the colleagues we have lost shines brightly in those firefighters serving today.
“The ultimate sacrifice made by the 19 men who fought the Cheapside Street fire will always be remembered.”