Stephen T Maynard lost his life in the line of duty on the 25th of January 1980. His Red Plaque was presented on the 4th of May 2019.
A member of the Red Watch at Poplar Fire Station in London, Stephen was known to all as Steve. He had just been appointed temporary leading firefighter at Poplar when he attended a fire in the hold of the M.V. Rudi M, a ship docked in Limehouse Basin on Regent’s Canal, where he died at the age of twenty-six.
On the 17th January 1980, crews from the Green Watch at Poplar fire station, who covered the Regents Canal Dock, were called to a fire caused by workers using hot cutting equipment on the ship. The blaze was quickly tackled but work on the boat continued all month leading up to one fateful morning.
Then on the 25th of January, a ship’s fire was again caused by workers using hot cutting equipment, an aluminium tank was cut from the hold and sparks ignited the tank’s polyurethane foam insulation, creating noxious smoke. A fire was seen to be in progress in the hold of the ship and a Breathing Apparatus crew, consisting of firefighters Steve Maynard and Steve Debenham from the Red Watch, with Fire Officer George Thomas and Firefighter Gary Jones from the Green Watch, were committed with a firefighting jet. As the heat rose in the hold, attending fire crews were ordered to leave. As the last man out of the hold, Steve fell from a red-hot ladder into the tank, breaking his breathing apparatus. When his colleague Steve Debenham reached the top of the ladder he noticed that Steve Maynard was not behind him. He went back down the ladder but suddenly the hold of the ship erupted into flame and smoke. Steve Debenham was badly burnt at the scene and Steve Maynard did not manage to escape, tragically losing his life.
Hackney Borough Commander Steve Dudeney says:
“The Brigade lost a good officer and his family and colleagues mourned his untimely death at the age of 26. Limehouse Basin is now almost unrecognisable.”
Steve is remembered by his family, as well as current and retired firefighters of Poplar Fire Station who gather and hold a minute’s silence each year in Limehouse Basin. His Red Plaque can be found on the wall of the Harbour Master’s Office, alongside a memorial plaque mounted by London Fire Brigade.
Below are memories added by those who knew Stephen Maynard or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for Stephen Maynard that you wish to add, please include your memory below.
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Photo credits: Mark Thomas