John C Noble lost his life in the line of duty on the 23rd of January 2008. His Red Plaque was presented on the anniversary of his death, the 23rd of January 2019.
A Watch Manager at Alloa Fire Station, John was on his way to a callout at Strathdevon Primary School in Dollar, Clackmannanshire, when his fire engine was involved in a fatal accident. With more than twenty years of experience in the fire service, the forty-six-year-old left behind his wife, Lorraine, and two children.
The fire engine had a crew of five and were responding to a smoke alarm that activated at a nearby primary school when the driver attempted to turn into a bend and the vehicle’s steering stopped responding. As result of the collision John died, three colleagues were injured and another seriously injured. The fire engine left the road and collided with a tree near the town of Tillicoultry, killing John. The call was later found to be a false alarm.
Chief Fire Officer Steven Torrie said
“Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service is a small Service and a close-knit community and we are all absolutely devastated by this loss and extremely concerned about our injured colleagues. The thoughts of every single member of this Service are with the firefighter’s family and the families of our injured colleagues, this is a tragic day for our Service.”
Fergus Ewing, the minister for community safety, which includes fire services, said:
“I was shocked and saddened to hear about this incident. It is a tragic reminder of the debt which all of us owe to our fire and rescue professionals.”
Described as ‘a gentleman and true family man’, John is fondly remembered by his family and colleagues. As his commemorative plaque was unveiled, Denise Christie, Regional Secretary of the FBU in Scotland, said:
“John’s death was a tragedy that every firefighter felt. The Red Plaque scheme is a fitting tribute to the ultimate sacrifice John paid in the line of duty. We are honoured to have John remembered in this way and our thoughts are very much with his family, friends and colleagues on this anniversary.”
John was based at Alloa Fire Station for most of his career but he was still a high flier: leading a course in Russia last summer teaching rescue workers how to deal with road traffic accidents, including extracting victims from crumpled cars. Following the trip, he said: “Their English was every bit as good as my Russian — which is nil.” Yet, despite having no interpreter on site he effectively taught using sign language. When asked during the trip how he communicated a life saving technique to non English speakers, it was a Russian who answered: “One rescuer always knows what the other one is thinking.” He had also recently returned from a two-week urban search and rescue course in the US. The training, had been devised primarily because of the global terrorist threats in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Completing the course meant the firefighter was among only 22 in the UK certified as structural collapse technicians.
Today, John is fondly remembered by his family, former colleagues, and brothers and sisters in the FBU. His memorial can be found at Strathdevon Primary School.
Below are memories added by those who knew John Noble or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for John Noble that you wish to add, please include your memory below.
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Photo credits: Fraser Band