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Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Photo: Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Heritage Trust

He was awarded the George Medal for heroism in the line of duty. Retired fireman James Dunlop, a survivor of the 1960 Cheapside disaster, died Sept. 28, 2014, at the age of 85.

Excerpt from obituary in The Scotsman newspaper:

On his first day as a qualified fireman, James Dunlop and his colleagues were called out to what seemed to be a routine incident in the city centre: smoke was seen issuing from a whisky bond in Cheapside Street.

James Dunlop drove the turntable ladder into Warroch Street, which flanked the west side of the bond.

In Warroch Street Dunlop’s colleague, William Watters, mounted the ladder, which was then extended so that Watters could direct water on to the bond.

As firemen searched for the source of the smoke there was an explosion.

The blast blew out the walls overlooking Cheapside and Warroch Streets and the falling masonry killed 14 firemen and five members of Glasgow Salvage Corps.

The masonry also damaged the South’s turntable ladder and Watters was left hanging by his safety belt high above the street.

Whisky barrels in the bond then rolled out of their racks and smashed open on Warroch Street, creating streams of burning alcohol which started to envelop the ladder.

Ignoring the flames surrounding him, James Dunlop extended the turntable ladder to its full height to release safety catches and then lowered Watters to the ground.

Both men made their way to safety as their turntable ladder was totally destroyed by the fire.

Six members of Glasgow Fire Service received bravery awards for their actions at Cheapside Street.

James Dunlop was one of two who received the George Medal.

His citation read: “Fireman James Dunlop displayed great personal courage by remaining at the controls of his ladder … and assisting Fireman William Watters to safety.”