A FORMER fireman who won a bravery award for his heroic attempts to rescue a child from a stream has died after a three-month battle with a blood infection.
Retired Hartlepool firefighter Peter Oliver tackled countless blazes in his accomplished 30-year career with Cleveland Fire Brigade.
But it was a bacterial infection that attacked his heart which claimed the 57-year-old’s life.
Fire chiefs and Peter’s heartbroken family and friends have paid tribute to the “excellent firefighter” and “home-loving family man”.
Peter, who lived off Torquay Avenue in Hartlepool but grew up in West View, joined Cleveland Fire Brigade in April 1978 and retired in April 2008, serving mostly at Stranton Fire Station, where the Union Flag has been flying at half-mast as a mark of respect.
Peter, along with fellow firefighter Steve Waggott, was awarded the Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation in 1990 for bravery and professionalism in attempting to locate and save a child from a stream in Hartlepool.
Peter died on May 21.
He leaves behind his wife of 35 years Gillian, sons Paul, a fireman at Stockton Fire Station, and John, daughter-in-law Gemma, John’s fiancee Chenelle, grandchildren Amelie, nine, and four-year-old Nieve and siblings Malcolm and Joyce.
Peter’s friend, Neil Handisides, who is also Gillian’s uncle, said: “Peter was a well-loved, cheerful and down-to-earth man who lived life to the full and loved the life he lived.
“His passing will leave a gap that can never possibly be filled.”
Childhood friend Steve Costin added: “He was fiercely loyal to his friends, passionate about the Fire Service which was his life for 30 years, where he was affectionately known as ‘Dan’, due to his eating habits and uncanny resemblance to comic book character Desperate Dan.”
Fellow retired firefighter and friend Derek Hodgson added: “He was a ‘big’ man in every sense of the word!
“He will be sadly missed by all who had the privilege to know him, and by those of us who had the pleasure of spending time in his company.”
Phil Lancaster, the brigade’s director of community protection, said: “Peter was a very popular character on the watches he served, acting as a mentor to younger firefighters.
“He was also an active member of the Walking and Mountaineering section of the service.
“He’ll be remembered as an excellent firefighter in the great traditions of the fire service.
“As a young firefighter I had the great honour and pleasure to serve alongside Peter at Stranton, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Peter’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Everton fan Peter entered many charity events, including the barrel push and Coast to Coast bike ride, for the Firefighters’ Charity.
He loved the Lake District, where his family wish to scatter his ashes, and spent many hours climbing the fells with friends.
Peter also trekked in the Rockies, the Himalayas and the Central Atlas Mountains.
His funeral will take place at Holy Trinity Church, in Davison Drive, on Tuesday, June 3, at 1.15pm.
He will be given a firefighter’s guard of honour and two fire engines will be in the cortege.
The service will be conducted by Reverend Roz Hall, who knew Peter as a teenager.