William Carnegie lost his life in the line of duty on the 8th July 1962. His Red Plaque was unveiled on the 13th April 2023.
Leading Firefighter William Carnegie was fatally injured while attending a fire on Mains Road, Dundee, on 14th June 1962. People living near the scene of the fire had smelt smoke for most of the afternoon but they had dismissed it as a chimney fire. It is thought a spark had set old wood in the roof smouldering. He was one of two men who broke into a burning tenement flat to find the source of a blaze in the attic which threatened to grow out of control. While climbing out of a badly damaged window to check if the fire had spread to the roof, the ledge he was standing on gave way and he plummeted to the ground. He sustained severe head injuries after falling 30 ft from the roof of a two-storey tenement.
Eighteen year old David Thom described the scene:
“Smoke was coming out of the roof and the fireman removed part of the window and climbed out onto the slates. He grabbed the metal supports of the window to pull himself up, but they came away in his hands. As he toppled backwards be tried to grab hold of the gutter but couldn’t, and he just tumbled down to the pavement. His helmet came off as he fell.”
William was taken to hospital and died of his injuries on July 8th, at 44 years of age and was survived by his wife and their 17 year old son.
He joined the fire force in 1946 after being in service to the Scottish Guards. He worked as a motor engineer and did a great deal of good work for the handicapped members of the Hawthorn Swimming Club. One of his colleagues said rarely a week passed without his attendance at the baths to instruct them.
His wife was consoled by her brother-in-law, Firefighter Harry Anderson. Only months prior he and a colleague had a narrow escape in the jute warehouse fire which killed another colleague, Divisional Fire Officer John Jamieson Buist.
The unveiling of the Red Plaque for William occurred at Blackness Road Fire Station in Dundee accompanied by the Red Plaque for Firefighter John Jamieson Buist, whose unfortunate death occurred just a few months prior. The memorial was to honour the two men, who both served with the Angus Area Fire Brigade.
The ceremony included speeches from FBU senior officials and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service senior officers, Ron Buist, son of John Buist with an FBU piper and Lord Provost, Bill Campbell, on behalf of Dundee City Council.
John Buist’s son Ron Buist said:
“It’s nice to see courageous men acknowledged in what they’ve done and it will be a great source of pride for me that there are plaques here in the town that he made his home and also that he is remembered on the national memorial just outside St Paul’s Cathedral.”
“It’s a means of recognising the sacrifice that my father made 60 years ago when he was really just doing his job, and also the sacrifice that Bill (William) Carnegie made.”
Seona Hart FBU Regional Treasurer said:
“John Buist and William Carnegie lost their lives while serving and protecting the people of Dundee. The Red Plaques we have unveiled today will ensure the memory of their sacrifice lives on. Both firefighters died while attending fires in the local area, and both left behind loving families and a bereaved community. As firefighters we will never forget those who have died in the line of duty, and with these plaques they now have their place in public memory as part of the history of the city.”
Tam McFarlane, FBU National Officer added:
“Every Red Plaque represents a firefighter who lost their life in the line of duty. There are now over 80 of these memorials representing almost 200 fallen firefighters across the UK, reminding us of our shared history. Each unveiling ceremony is a moving tribute to firefighters who sacrificed their lives, as well as to their families and colleagues.
“Today we have come together as a community to remember the enormous bravery and sacrifice of John Buist and William Carnegie. We will ensure they are never forgotten.”
Below are memories added by those who knew William Carnegie or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for William Carnegie that you wish to add, please include your memory below.
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Photo credits: Craig Maclean