Stephen M Neill lost his life in the line of duty on the 1st of October 1978. His Red Plaque was presented on the anniversary of his death, the 1st of October 2018.
A firefighter at Barbican Fire Station, Stephen was killed by a wall collapsing while attempting to rescue another firefighter during a major warehouse fire. From Basildon in Essex, Stephen was twenty-four at the time of his death.
On the night of his death, Stephen was one of dozens of firefighters called to tackle a major warehouse fire at The Granery, St. Pancras Way in Camden, described as one of the worst blazes London had seen since the Blitz. The Granery was a five storey warehouse containing flammable goods such as toys, paints, plastics, and furniture. Fanned by high winds, the fire was consuming the large warehouse as the firefighters worked in extremely challenging conditions using handheld main jets, ground monitors and aerial monitors to try and bring the fire under control, and to prevent it from spreading to other nearby buildings.
Signs of a potential collapse of parts of the building were noticed, an order was given to move a number of appliances away from a boundary wall and to evacuate that area. Whilst these appliances were being moved and despite the order to evacuate, Stephen and some of his colleagues remained to attempt to help a colleague who had become trapped forty feet up a ladder, suddenly part of the fifty-foot wall collapsed bringing down tonnes of bricks onto them and a number of fire appliances. An immediate rescue effort was begun to locate and rescue those who had been trapped under the collapse. Tragically despite the best efforts of his colleagues, Stephen was found to have died from the injuries he sustained with a further six firefighters injured, three of them seriously. The trapped firefighter survived, and the fire service praised Stephen for his courage and selflessness in fighting to protect his colleagues in the face of danger. He was accorded a full fire service funeral with his coffin being carried aboard a turntable ladder.
Today, Stephen is fondly remembered by his family, former colleagues, and brothers and sisters in the FBU. His memorial can be found on the major street in Euston where he bravely fought to get his colleague to safety.
Below are memories added by those who knew Stephen Neill or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for Stephen Neill that you wish to add, please include your memory below.
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Photo credits: Fire Brigades Union and Firefighter