The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service today marked the loss of seven firefighters on the 48th anniversary of the tragic Kilbirnie Street warehouse fire in Glasgow.
Chief Officer Martin Blunden attended the city’s Necropolis, along with Local Senior Officer for Glasgow City, Roddie Keith, and laid a wreath as an act of remembrance.
Under normal circumstances this tragic event would be commemorated with a service at the Necropolis where colleagues would be invited to form a guard of honour and friends, family and other guests would have an opportunity to pay their respects and lay wreaths.
Due to Scottish Government guidance in relation to COVID-19, the remembrance service was adapted to adhere to current social distancing guidelines.
Chief Officer Blunden said: “That we have limited attendance this year in no way diminishes the significance of the loss we continue to feel for our fallen colleagues.
“These firefighters made the ultimate sacrifice as they worked to protect their communities and our thoughts remain very firmly with their families.
“Our firefighters go to work each day knowing they may be asked to enter harm’s way to help protect others.
“It is this dedication that marks all of our crews, Operations Control staff and emergency service partners as so extraordinary.”
Firefighters across the country paraded outside their places of work to mark the memorial and station flags were flown at half-mast.
The Kilbirnie Street tragedy unfolded shortly after 11.20am on Friday, August 25, 1972 when crews from the former Glasgow Fire Service raced to the scene of the ferocious blaze at the Sher Brothers warehouse.
As firefighters tried to exit the building, firefighter James Rook became trapped by stock that had fallen on top of him. Divisional Officer Andrew Quinn led a team of volunteers to try to find and rescue him.
Unfortunately, as the search party entered the building the fire ignited the hardwood ceilings on the first floor, causing a massive 'flashover' leading to their deaths.
They were DO Andrew Quinn, firefighters Alistair Crofts, Iain Bermingham, Allan Finlay, William Hooper, Duncan McMillan and James Rook.
Chief Officer Blunden continued: “It is important to remind ourselves that firefighting in Glasgow, post-World War Two, was a dangerous and hazardous occupation. It was known as the 'Tinderbox City'.
“Since the second World War, more than 300 firefighters have lost their lives in the line of duty in the UK – each loss reminds us of the dangers firefighters face each and every day.
“The bravery and selfless dedication that was witnessed that day still drives every firefighter. It is what pushes them to join the Service and it is what sees them commit themselves, without question, to environments that some can never even imagine.
“The lessons of the past have shaped our values of today. As firefighters, we learn, we adapt, and we continue to answer that call when no one else can.
“The sacrifice made by the seven firefighters at Kilbirnie Street fire will never be forgotten. Their memory lives on as a proud part of our history, and in the everyday actions of our firefighters.”