Derek lost his life in the line of duty on the 26th June 1983. His Red Plaque was presented on the anniversary of his death on the 26th June 2021.
A member of the Blue Watch at Islington Fire Station, Derek ‘Ginger’ Potts was 37 years old when he collapsed and died of a heart attack while fighting a blaze at 44 Compton Road, Islington.
Derek had gone into the heavily smoke-logged three-storey building to extinguish the fire and had then returned when it was thought the elderly woman who lived there might still be inside. Once he was out of the building, he collapsed and was taken to Hackney Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Prior to the fire at Compton Road, Derek had attended a residential flat fire in a tower block where he was involved in an arduous close support role immediately behind the Breathing Apparatus firefighting crew. Initially, Derek’s name was not placed automatically on the Roll of Honour because his death was not, at the time, thought of as having fallen in the category of ‘killed on duty’. After representations by Derek’s former colleagues still serving at Islington Fire Station, the Chief Fire Officer concluded that the strenuous nature of his participation in two jobs within two hours may have contributed to his heart attack and so he was added to the Roll of Honour in 1997.
Today, Derek is remembered by his family, his current and retired firefighters of Islington Fire Station, and his brothers and sisters throughout the fire service and the FBU. His plaque can be found at Islington Fire Station.
Photo credits: Matt Wrack