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FBU unveils more plaques for fallen firefighters

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The Fire Brigades Union has unveiled three new plaques for fallen firefighters as part of the Red Plaque Scheme, funded by the weekly Firefighter 100 Lottery.

Edwin James Booth

Edwin James Booth was a Stoke firefighter who was deployed to fight fires in Coventry on 14 November 1940. He was injured, along with several members of his crew, and never regained consciousness. He passed away two days later, on 16 November 1940.

Over half of Coventry’s homes (43,000) were either damaged or destroyed in the massive air raid of 14 November 1940. It has been called the ‘single most concentrated attack on a British city in the Second World War’ and lasted for 11 hours. The plaque is being unveiled at Hanley Community Fire Station in Stoke-on-Trent. Edwin was a firefighter in Hanley.

Jack Lee, FBU Staffordshire brigade chair (acting), said: “The Blitz was a horrific time in our country’s history, and 14 November was utterly devastating for Coventry. These would have been extremely challenging circumstances for firefighters to work in, and the bravery of Edwin and his colleagues will have saved many lives. His courage was part of a huge, vital effort in a time of tumultuous conflict. It is vital that we remember individual sacrifices like Edwin’s when we remember the wider horror of wartime, just as it is vital that we remember the wider context of Edwin’s sacrifice when we focus on it.”

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The red plaque unveiling at Hanley fire station, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent for Edwin james Booth he gave his life in service in the Blitz in 1940, attended by his decedents Jeff and Su Cotton

Adrian McGill

Adrian McGill, aged 34, was attempting to rescue a trapped woman in a fire at Maryhill Road in Glasgow, and it is thought that in an attempt to save her life he gave her his oxygen mask. His body was later found with signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Tragically, the woman also died. The incident took place on 18 November 1972.

The plaque was unveiled at Maryhill Fire Station (775 Maryhill Rd, Glasgow G20 7TL), on Friday 18 November at 13:30-14:15. At the time of his death Mr McGill was married with three children, with his youngest child being just eight months old. He was the eighth Glasgow firefighter to die in a fire in three months, with seven firefighters dying in the Kilbirnie Street textile warehouse blaze in August, and the 27th to have lost their life in the previous 12 years.

Seona Hart, FBU Scotland Regional Treasurer, said:

“Adrian McGill made a split-second decision out of care for someone else, a stranger who he had never met before, and a decision which he would have known came with huge risk. It is self-sacrifice on an almost indescribable scale. There’s a quote that states that there is no more stirring symbol of our humanity towards others than a fire engine. Adrian McGill and what he did personify that.

“This plaque will ensure that the Glasgow community knows about the sacrifice that Adrian McGill made, and it will help Glasgow’s firefighters remember one of their own.”

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Image Credit: Fire Brigades Union, Craig Maclean

Leonard McCartney and Lexi Wylie

Leonard McCartney and Lexie Wylie were killed when the building they were fighting a fire in, the Meville Hotel on Foyle Street, Derry/Londonderry, collapsed onto them.

A message sent to the fire service control room shortly after said “no action for rescue is possible as all upper floors collapsed without warning” and that “all five floors and attics severely damaged by fire… Leading Fireman McCartney and Leading Fireman Wylie were last seen in the ground floor corridor at the front of the building”. It took 17 hours for the bodies to be located and removed from the rubble of Melville Hotel. The plaque was unveiled at the location where the incident took place on 21 November 1971.

Leading Fireman Leonard McCartney was 42 years of age and lived in Violet Street. He had been a firefighter based in Northland Road Fire Station for 20 years and was survived by his wife Mary and three children Audrey, Robert and Alan.

Leading Fireman Lexie Wylie was 35 years old and had been in the fire service for 14 years, also serving at Northland Road Fire Station. He lived with his mother and sister at their family home in Galliagh.

Jim Quinn, FBU executive council member for Northern Ireland, said: “Leonard McCartney and Lexie Wylie were firefighters who did everything they could do to serve their communities for years. They fought fires and carried out rescues during a very dangerous period in our country. They carried out their duties with real bravery and lost their lives in a huge and tragic incident. It is absolutely vital that we remember them and their contributions across their time in the fire and rescue service. This plaque will go a long way to ensuring that that happens.”

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