Hamish ‘Harry’ Pettit lost his life in the line of duty on the 13th December 1974 when attending a fire at the Worsley Hotel in Maida Vale, London. His Red Plaque was unveiled on the 13th December 2021 on the 47th anniversary of the fire.
On the night of Thursday 12th December 1974, two separate fires were deliberately lit at the Worsley Hotel. It became a significant fire and 40 fire engines ultimately attended the scene. Hamish attended the fire with Red Watch from Paddington fire station. On arrival at the scene, Hamish and his colleague had found over 30 people trapped by smoke and screaming for rescue from windows of the six floor building.
Firefighters immediately set about carrying out multiple rescues, with 32 people being rescued in a short space of time. Whilst the crew were battling to bring the fire under control, suddenly and without warning several of the floors above came crashing down on to them, trapping them under burning debris. Their colleagues immediately commenced a rescue operation, unfortunately due to the amount of debris and the danger of further collapse, this became a difficult protracted operation. The trapped firefighters were eventually released, two suffering from serious burns and one with a serious back injury.
Hamish was the last to be located, tragically there was nothing that could be done to save him and he was declared dead at the scene. Six other residents died during the fire. The incident was the first major incident dealt with by the control room at Wembley since the computerised mobilising system was commissioned and had gone live that week.
Following the fire a total of seven firefighters were recognised for the bravery they displayed whilst attending this incident. Three firefighters received the Queens commendation for bravery, including Hamish posthumously, another four received the Queens Gallantry medal. Hamish was just 25 years old at the time of his death.
Hamish is remembered by his family, friends, colleagues, and brothers and sisters in the FBU. His Red Plaque is located at Connaught House, 11 Clifton Gardens, Maida Vale.
Dave Shek, Fire Brigades Union executive council member for London, said:
“Firefighters who die in the line of duty give a huge sacrifice for the lives of others. We consider it part of our duty to honour them. The Red Plaque scheme was set up in the union’s centenary year to help do this, and we are pleased to see it growing. It will continue to commemorate brave firefighters like Hamish.”
Below are memories added by those who knew Hamish Pettit or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for Hamish Pettit that you wish to add, please include your memory below.
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Photo credits: Mark Thomas