Remembrance to Bethnal Green's ‘perfect storm’ fire tragedy 17 years on
- Credit: Jon Scott
Two firefighters killed in a tragic "perfect storm" blaze in Bethnal Green have been remembered 17 years on.
Billy Faust and Adam Meere were remembered by their former London Fire Brigade red watch chief Jon Scott, now retired, who was on duty at Whitechapel that day in 2004.
“Losing Billy and Adam when such a rare set of circumstances came together to form that fateful ‘perfect storm’ increases the pain tenfold,” Jon told the July 20 memorial service at Bethnal Green’s Museum Gardens.
“Billy would have been 53 with 25 years’ service. He was an operational firefighter through and through who enjoyed the adrenaline and could flick a switch into professional mode.
“He was not one to take a backward step if required to enter a burning building. How typical that he would be the one to lead on that fateful day.”
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Billy left a wife, Michelle, and three children, a brother and parents.
Adam, whose father was a fire brigade station officer before him, would have been 44 now. He was 27 when he came to Whitechapel and was engaged to be married.
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The emergency call that day reported two people were trapped on the roof above a car tyre shop and dwellings on fire in Bethnal Green Road. Billy and Adam got in by the basement before an explosion ripped through the three-storey building.
“Firefighters accept the risk of their job,” Jon Scott told the Advertiser. “But it’s for all of us when you make the ultimate sacrifice.”
The tragedy led to better safety procedures; firefighter Fred Hulbert, who dragged Adam's body from the blaze, took legal action against the fire authority claiming negligence.
There was insufficient “hot fire” training on breathing apparatus or building construction, he claimed.
His campaign led to lobbying in Parliament in 2008 over deaths in the fire and rescue services at the time.
Billy’s father David Faust spoke to the Advertiser at the rally to call for more training for the "dangerous job that the public expects".
Public education was no substitute for a fire and rescue service with proper training and resources, the Fire Brigade Union warned at the time.