Son honours heroic firefighter dad who sacrificed life to save others

Adrian McGill gave his breathing apparatus to a trapped resident in the fire on Maryhill Road in 1972.

On the 50th anniversary of a huge blaze which claimed the life of a firefighter in Glasgow, a plaque has been unveiled to mark the tragic milestone.

Adrian McGill, 34, lost his life after a fire broke out at a disused wallpaper shop on Maryhill Road on November 18, 1972.

As firefighters worked tirelessly to save the flats above the shop, the blaze spread to a row of tenements on Great Western Road.

Heroic sub officer McGill gave his breathing apparatus to a resident who was trapped in her top floor flat on Maryhill Road. 

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Firefighters rescued the resident by ladder but she passed away soon after and sub officer McGill succumbed to the effects of smoke inhalation.

Sub officer McGill was married to wife Eileen, and had three children – Stephen, Shirley and Alan – who were aged, nine, eight and nine months.

The lives of more than 200 people in the area were saved as fire crews led them through smoke to safety or rescued them using ladders.

A memorial service is set to be held on Friday.SFRS

A total of 50 families were made homeless after the fire.

A memorial service was held on Friday, November 18 at the heritage plaque at Maryhill Road, Glasgow. 

Attending the service were family members, SFRS area commander David Murdoch who is the local senior officer for Glasgow, crews from Maryhill Fire Station and SFRS chaplains.

The Fire Brigades Union will also unveiled a red plaque in memory of sub officer McGill at Maryhill Fire Station.

A plaque will be unveiled in memory of Sub Officer McGillSFRS

Speaking at the memorial service, sub officer McGill’s son Stephen, who is now 59, said: “I remember it was a Saturday. He went to work and never came back. We heard on the teatime BBC News that there had been a big fire in Glasgow and a firefighter had died but we weren’t unduly concerned because he went to a lot of big fires.

“But at around 7pm two senior firefighters came to our door in full dress code – and as soon as we opened the door we knew what news they were bringing.

“It was a long time ago but it’s still fresh in my mind. My mum was only in her early 30s and with a young family.”

Stephen McGill, the firefighter's son, attended the service.SFRS

Eileen has since passed away, but Stephen’s sister Shirley still lives in Glasgow and younger brother Alan now lives in Australia.

When sub officer McGill died in 1972, Glasgow City Council commemorated him with a bravery certificate.

Stephen gifted a copy of the certificate to the SFRS in recognition of the support his family have received throughout the years, both financial and emotional.

The lives of more than 200 people were saved by brave crews.SFRS

He said: “What happened was sad but we were lucky, we were never alone. We had financial and emotional support from the fire service, right through our teenage years.

“If my mum was here she would be thrilled he’s getting this day in his memory. My dad was a very gregarious and fun man. He loved life and he loved being a firefighter. This is a celebration of his life and what he did.”

Stephen also followed his father’s career and served as a firefighter for around seven years with Glasgow Fire Brigade, based at the city’s Cowcaddens Fire Station.

The McGill family were there when the plaque was unveiled.SFRS

He was also seconded to the then North West Fire Station – now Maryhill Fire Station – where his dad was stationed.

He said: “It was quite surreal to be walking around the rooms and the dorms where he had spent his last days and where he would have been stationed that day when the engine left.”

Area commander David Murdoch, SFRS local senior officer for Glasgow, said: “It is an honour to be here today and to stand with the McGill family and friends as we remember firefighter Adrian McGill.

“This is a fitting tribute to a brave man who made the ultimate sacrifice to help save lives and protect communities. He will never be forgotten. His spirit lives on in each and every one of our firefighters today as they approach their role with that same commitment and selfless dedication.”

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