Red plaque for hero firefighter who died in the line of duty

Roderick Nicolson – known as Big Nic – died on December 4, 1995 while trying to rescue two workmen.

A Perth firefighter who paid the ultimate sacrifice responding to an incident at the city’s harbour has been commemorated with a Red Plaque.

Roderick Nicolson – known as Big Nic – died on December 4, 1995 while trying to rescue two workmen trapped in a 40-foot silo of chemical dust likened to quicksand.

On Thursday, May 30 his family, members of the public, local dignitaries, and serving and retired firefighters gathered at Perth Fire Station for a special ceremony to honour the selfless hero.

The occasion was marked with speeches, a piper recital, wreath laying and a minute’s silence. Among those gathered were his wife Yvonne and daughter Amy who was just nine at the time.

Roderick was described as being a highly respected firefighter who was well thought-of across the service. The 43-year-old served for 21 years with the Tayside Fire Brigade.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Services (SFRS) chief officer Ross Haggart said Nic showed “extreme bravery in selflessly volunteering to enter the silo”.

The heroic fireman volunteered to enter the silo then became trapped himself while helping to save the lives of the two workers. He died as a result of his injuries.

The SFRS chief officer said: “The sacrifice made by Nic will never be forgotten. Our thoughts will always be with his family and friends.”

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) executive council member for Scotland Colin Brown – who has attended many similar events – said: “Nic’s actions stand out as one of the most selfless and heroic acts I have ever heard.”

Provost Xander McDade paid tribute to Roderick Nicolson’s “ultimate sacrifice” and thanked “all who continue to serve in our communities”.

Since 2017 the Red Plaque Scheme has created memorials for firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. They are funded by the Firefighters 100 Lottery. Since the scheme began over 50 firefighters have been commemorated across the UK.

Nic’s Red Plaque will move from Perth Fire Station to go on permanent display at Perth Museum next week.

Retired firefighter Jimmy Whyte was on shift the night of the incident and was keen to see his former colleague commemorated with the Red Plaque.

Jimmy said: “Nic was a character. He was a very quiet person but when he spoke everyone listened; he would say something funny or interesting. He was well liked.”

FBU Scotland regional treasurer Seona Hart said: “Firefighter Roderick Nicolson lost his life in an act of selflessness and bravery that we will never forget. Today we have come together to reflect on his life and honour his service to his community.

“The Red Plaque we have unveiled will stand as a permanent tribute, and a place for firefighters and the people of Perth to remember Roderick.”

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