Memories are set in stone

Deputy chief fire officer John Hindmarch views the memorial.
Deputy chief fire officer John Hindmarch views the memorial.

None have died in the line of duty – and they intend to keep it that way.

But a new monument of remembrance to fire personnel who have passed away while working for the service has been unveiled in Washington.

The stone, at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS) headquarters, at Barmston, is available for families, friends and colleagues to remember their loved ones and former colleagues.

The names of those who have died will be commemorated on plaques at the memorial’s base, which are currently being engraved.

The monument was unveiled by John Hindmarch, the deputy chief fire officer. Sunderland Minster’s Sheila Bamber, who is Canon Provost, read out a dedication prayer.

And George Scott, the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, attended along with fire service staff.

The Rev Simon Cake, TWFRS’s chaplain, said: “There is a national memorial for firefighters.

“However we were keen to have something more local and accessible that commemorates the whole Tyne and Wear family. It’s in an area where families, friends and colleagues can visit and quietly pay their respects and have some personal time to think about their loved ones and colleagues.

Mr Hindmarch said: “Thankfully we don’t lose many of our colleagues. When we do it is felt by everyone across the service.

“It is a real honour to unveil this plaque as a tribute to our colleagues and friends and I hope it brings some comfort to those who feel the loss.”

And Councillor Tom Wright, chair of the TWFRS Authority, said: “To lose someone you are close to is very, very sad.

“I am sure staff, friends and the families of those affected will value this memorial to them, which also acknowledges the contribution they have made to the service.”

In the last 10 years, seven colleagues have died while working for the service in non-firefighting duties.

The stone has been donated by O’Brien’s in Boldon, South Tyneside.