Barry Martin is the latest firefighter to lose his life while on duty after he was fatally injured while working to control a huge blaze at the Jenners building in Edinburgh.
Mr Martin, 38, was critically injured while fighting a fire at the former department store on Monday and was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. He was one of five firefighters taken to hospital but he died on Friday, Police Scotland said.
More than a dozen firefighters have died while on duty since 2005, according to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). The last Scottish firefighter to be killed on duty was Ewan Williamson, whose death was described as “tragic and unacceptable” after he was killed tackling a blaze in the basement of an Edinburgh pub in July 2009.
An FBU fatal accident report published in 2015 said the floor of the Balmoral bar on Dalry Road collapsed when the fire broke out shortly after midnight. Residents of the tenement block upstairs also had to be rescued – 15 adults, one child and one infant.
Mr Williamson got separated from his partner and was trapped in a toilet while the fire spread into the basement and collapsed the ground floor, cutting off his means of escape. He was exposed to the fire and extreme heat, lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at 3.20am.
In July 2013, another firefighter lost his life during a blaze at a hair shop in Manchester. Stephen Hunt, 38, was killed when he got into difficulties and collapsed at Paul’s Hair World in the city’s Northern Quarter. An inquest later ruled that he was killed unlawfully by two 15-year-old girls who had started the fire deliberately.
The girls claimed they had been smoking and had put out their cigarettes but an expert fire investigator said the fire was more likely started by a flaming leaflet pushed under the doorway which then lit up some cardboard inside the shop. They also took a selfie video in which they admitted starting the fire, which was shown to jurors during the inquest.
A teenage witness also reported seeing one of the girls pushing a lit piece of paper through the door. Founded in 1838, the Jenners department store was one of the oldest in the world when it closed in 2021. The A-listed current building dates to 1895, after a fire destroyed the original.
Renovations are ongoing to transform it into a hotel, backed by a firm owned by fashion billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen. At the height of the blaze on Monday, which was reported at about 11.30am, 22 fire appliances were sent to the scene in Rose Street. Witnesses saw a soot-covered firefighter being helped from the building by colleagues.
In all, six emergency workers were taken to hospital, five firefighters and one police officer. Two firefighters were treated for burns, and a police officer and two firefighters for smoke inhalation. They have since been discharged.
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