David Barnes lost his life in the line of duty while responding to a fire in a large builders’ merchants store on 15 September 1977, alongside his colleague Neil Goldsmith. His Red Plaque was presented on the 20th May 2022.
David and his colleague Neil Goldsmith were responding to a fire in a large builders’ merchants store in Elgar Road, Reading when it partially collapsed, trapping them both. Sadly, they had both died by the time they were found, with a significant fire and continuing collapse of the building hampering rescue efforts – which included the involvement of the Chief Fire Office himself. David was 44 years old when he left behind a wife and two children. He held positions in the Fire Brigades Union in Berkshire since he came into the country in 1966.
Members of both David’s and Neil’s families were involved with the plaque process and were present for the unveilings.
A newspaper clipping from the time (Evening Post, 16 September 1977) recounts the men being described as “ordinary men” doing the job “they loved”. It was said that “It was typical of both men that they were among the first to go into the building, neither of them was the type to stand back and let the other do the work”.
Today, David is remembered fondly by his friends, family, and brothers and sisters in the fire service and the FBU. His Red Plaque is located at Caversham Road Fire Station with both David and Neil’s Plaques revealed on the same day.
James Hunt, FBU Berkshire brigade organiser, said:
“These plaques will help us all remember an incident which made a huge impact on firefighters locally and the sacrifices made by David and Neil to keep their community safe. David and Neil were both well respected firefighters and these will be fitting tributes to them. They are missed by family, friends and colleagues every day.”
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:
“Firefighters put their lives on the line for us all and we must remember those who make the ultimate sacrifice. It is particularly difficult for the local firefighting community when two firefighters are taken in the same incident. We are glad we can help their memories live on by unveiling these plaques.
“However, our thoughts, words and actions must not be limited to remembering those we have sadly lost in the line of duty. Every firefighter lost must serve as a reminder to us to fight for the living and for the safety advancements that will protect firefighters today.”
Below are memories added by those who knew David Barnes or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for David Barnes that you wish to add, please include your memory below.
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Photo credits: Mark Thomas