Memorial service to be held for Whitechapel firefighters 17 years on
- Credit: Stefano Cagnoni
An anniversary memorial service to two firefighters who were killed in a blaze in Bethnal Green 17 years ago is being held by their families and London fire crews.
Billy Faust, 36, and crewmate Adam Meere, 27, who were both stationed at Whitechapel, arrived in Bethnal Green Road on July 20, 2004 to rescue two people trapped on the roof above a car tyre shop and dwellings on fire.
They were in the basement when an explosion ripped through the three-storey building at 8am that day.
A red plaque on a marble plinth was dedicated to Billy and Adam in 2017 at Bethnal Green’s Museum Gardens.
The marble memorial, which was paid for by the Firefighters 100 Lottery, was unveiled in 2017 by London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton and Fire Brigade Union general secretary Matt Wrack.
Their tragic deaths led to improved training and better safety after legal action by one of their comrades from Bow against the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.
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“Firefighters accept the risk of their job,” retired Whitechapel fire station manager Jon Scott told the East London Advertiser.
“But it’s for all of us when you make the ultimate sacrifice. We should commemorate them and all the fallen firefighters killed in the line of duty.”
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Firefighter Fred Hulbert, who dragged Adam's body from the blaze, began a campaign soon after to improve safety and training in the fire brigade.
Fred, from Bow fire-station which closed down six years ago, took legal action against the fire authority claiming negligence because the water supplies to hose reels had been turned off.
There was insufficient realistic “hot fire" training on breathing apparatus or building construction, he said.
His fight led to a change of procedures after firemen from all over Britain lobbied Parliament in 2008.
Billy's father David Faust, speaking to the Advertiser that year, said it became clear at the inquest that “there were systemic failures to train firefighters adequately”.
Fire crews from Whitechapel and Bethnal Green hold an annual minute’s silence at 8am every July 20 outside 419 Bethnal Green Road, which remained derelict for several years after the tragedy.