Kilbirnie Street Firefighters
This Red Plaque has been unveiled to commemorate seven Kilbirnie Street firefighters who lost their lives in a fire in Glasgow, Scotland, 50 years ago on the 28th August 1972.
Whilst engaged in fighting a serious fire in a warehouse on Kilbirnie Street, Fireman James Rook of the Glasgow Fire Service became trapped. Six of his colleagues entered the property to rescue him. They were Divisional Officer Andrew Quinn, Leading Fireman Alistair Crofts as well as Firemen Iain Bermingham, Allan Finlay, William Hooper and Duncan McMillan, and Fireman James Rook. After successfully rescuing the trapped firefighter, a massive flashover of extreme heat that overtook them which resulted in the deaths of all seven firefighters. What started as a routine industrial premises fire resulted in one of the highest losses of life for the UK fire and rescue service at a single incident in peacetime.
The people of Glasgow were shocked by this incident, the second major fire service tragedy in 12 years. A huge crowd lined the streets as hearses bore the bodies of the Kilbirnie Street victims to Glasgow Cathedral for the funeral service. The bodies of six of the seven firemen were then taken to the Necropolis where they were interred in the vault under the Cheapside Street memorial.
The unveiling of the Red Plaque took place at the site of the fire on Kilbirnie Street on Sunday 28 August 2022, three days after the 50 year anniversary on the incident. Ben Selby (FBU Vice President), Colin Brown (FBU Executive Council Member for Scotland), Ross Haggart (Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Chief Officer) and Bailie Norman MacLeod (Glasgow City Council) spoke at the unveiling and paid tribute to the sacrifice of the seven firefighters who died.
Seona Hart, FBU Scotland Regional Treasurer, said:
“This incident was a tragedy which had a huge impact on firefighters and the community locally. The plaque will help us all remember the huge sacrifice these firefighters made keeping the public safe.”
“Firefighters put their lives on the line, and their selfless work to protect others deserves to be remembered. The Red Plaque Scheme plays an important role for the loved ones of firefighters who have died in the line of duty, so that their sacrifices are not forgotten, as well as sharing their stories with the community.”
Ben Selby, FBU Vice President, said:
“When others are running away from dangers of fire and other emergencies, it is fire fighters that are running towards it, often without a second thought, they’re willing to put their lives in danger and on occasions like this one sadly they pay the ultimate sacrifice.”
Today, all seven firefighters are remembered fondly by their family, friends, and colleagues in the FBU. The Red Plaque is located in Kilbirnie Street, Glasgow.
Below are memories added by those who knew any Kilbirnie Street firefighters or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for Kilbirnie Street firefighters that you wish to add, please include your memory below.
Please help support our Firefighters with the Firefighters 100 Lottery, a weekly online lottery created to support firefighters, their bereaved families and to honour the bravery and sacrifice of firefighters killed in the line of duty. With your help we can have schemes such as the Red Plaque Project for memorials to those lives lost.
Photo credits: Roddy Scott