Stephen 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.
The ship’s fire started when an aluminium tank was being cut from the hold and sparks ignited the tank’s polyurethane foam insulation, creating noxious smoke. 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. The tank burst into flames before Steve could be rescued. His colleague, Steve Debenham, was badly burnt at the scene.
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.
Photo credits: Mark Thomas