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Plans to create first national memorial to Scotland's fallen firefighters

Plans to create first national memorial to Scotland's fallen firefighters

Scots are being invited to have their say on plans to create the first national memorial honouring the country's firefighters.

A consultation has been launched by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) asking all members of its communities and partner agencies to give their view on what they think a national firefighters memorial should look like.

Initiated by serving firefighters from the SFRS Heritage Committee, the memorial will be the first of its kind in Scotland since the world's first municipal fire service formed in Edinburgh in 1824.

"There’s nothing like it at the moment for Scotland's firefighters," explained SFRS Heritage Committee Chairman Lewis Ramsay.

"In the UK we have a national one but we don’t have one specific for Scotland, which is surprising given that the first municipal fire service started in Edinburgh.

"We have already set up a few sites across our cities to honour the fallen, but when our regions combined to become the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service we realised the massive history we share.

"We felt it was important to do something for the whole country."

  (© HEMEDIA / SWNS Group)
via STV via STV

The bravery of Scotland's firemen has been marked in several cities over the years, particularly in Glasgow, where the worst-ever peacetime loss of life in the British Fire Service's history took place.

The Cheapside Street explosion in 1960 at a whisky storage warehouse claimed the lives of 14 firefighters of the Glasgow Fire Service, alongside five members of the Glasgow Salvage Corps.

Thousands of citizens lined the streets to Glasgow Cathedral for the funeral that was attended by representatives from all of Britain's fire brigades.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

The second worst loss of life commemorated is the Kilbirnie Street fire of August 25, 1972.

Firefighter James Rook became trapped in a warehouse blaze, when six of his colleagues rushed in to save him.

While rescuing their friend, a massive burst of extreme heat overcame the men, killing Rook along with Iain Bermingham, Alastair Crofts, Allan Finlay, William Hooper, Duncan McMillan and Andrew Quinn.

In 2010 a plaque was unveiled outside Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service HQ commemorating the first Edinburgh-based firefighter to die battling a blaze in living memory, Ewan Williamson.

The 35-year-old died in July 2009 rescuing people from a blaze in the city's Balmoral Bar on Dalry Road.

via STV via STV

"There are a whole lot of Scotland's firefighters who have sacrificed their lives to save other people," said Lewis, who has been a serving fireman himself for 27 years.

"We have launched the consultation to ask as many communities as we can to discuss what sort of memorial they might want and what sort of events we can have around it.

"We would hope that it would be something that marks our past, but also helps us engage with our communities today.

"There's a real broad history of the fire service in Scotland and we're all out there today still serving.

"A memorial would let us recognise and pay tribute to the courage and dedication displayed by serving firefighters, both past and present."

To have your say on where the national firefighters memorial should be, what it should look like and what date an annual memorial event should take place, you can fill in the online consultation page.

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