William lost his life in the line of duty on the 2nd March 1909 in Aberdeen. His Red Plaque was unveiled on the 24th April 2022.
William was 28 with a new-born baby when he died while battling a warehouse fire at Adelphi Court in Aberdeen. He was struck by a guttering pipe which knocked him off his ladder while fighting the fire and died 10 minutes after falling.
The Red Plaque unveiling was attended by William’s relatives, including his grandson William Niven and his great, great granddaughter Amy O’Sullivan. The unveiling was followed by a procession involving fire engines including a 1915 model North East Scottish Fire Heritage Club engine, which travelled along Aberdeen’s main streets, led by a piper for the final 50 metres. William Niven, William’s grandson, said:
“The service at the cemetery was very touching and the family appreciated the Minister saying a few words. It was very moving – it was more moving than I thought I would feel. The amount of work that went into the organisation of the day must have been tremendous. Now there is something people will see, take notice of and understand that someone was killed doing their job there.”
Firefighter Ross Urquhart put in the application for William’s plaque and tracked down his relatives. Ross said:
“I’m delighted we managed to find William’s relatives. As an Aberdeen firefighter today. I wanted to make sure that William was remembered appropriately. I felt we owed him that. Red Plaques remind us of the extraordinary sacrifices that firefighters make, and we are glad to be able to honour the only firefighter to die in the line of duty in Aberdeen with one.”
William is remembered fondly by his family, friends, and his brothers and sisters throughout the fire service and the FBU. His Red Plaque was unveiled at Adelphi Court in Aberdeen.
Photo credits: Newsline Media