Son ‘overwhelmed’ as plaque honours firefighter father who died in line of duty

The son of a firefighter who died trying to rescue a woman trapped in a blaze 50 years ago has said he is “proud and overwhelmed” to see his memory honoured with a special plaque.

Adrian McGill, who was 34 and a father-of-three, is thought to have given the woman his oxygen mask in an attempt to save her life in the fire in Glasgow on November 18 1972.

The blaze began in a shop on Maryhill Road, and 200 people had to be evacuated from the smoke-filled area, while 50 families were made homeless after the fire.

Stephen McGill paid tribute to his father in a speech at a ceremony to mark the unveiling of the plaque at Maryhill Fire Station on Friday afternoon.

The plaque was unveiled on Friday afternoon (PA)

Mr McGill, 59, remembered Mr McGill senior as a “fun and gregarious” man and told how he, his sister and baby brother, lived with their parents in accommodation at Govan Fire Station along with other firefighter families.

Recalling the day his father died, he said: “At that time, Glasgow was the tinderbox city, through the 50s, 60s, the early 70s, there were terrible fires with fatalities both among civilians and firefighters.

“We had no idea what was going on that day, remember there was no Sky news no Whatsapp, no text messages. The first that I recall there was a problem or an incident was the BBC early news just after the football results saying again tragically another major blaze in Glasgow, people evacuated, people in hospital, a fireman had died and a civilian had died.”

He added: “Reality hit home when the door went back of 7pm and there stood two senior firemen in full dress uniform and peaked caps. My mum opened that door and we knew the firefighter was Adrian.”

The service took place at Maryhill Fire Station (PA)

Mr McGill, himself a former firefighter, said that despite their devastation the family never felt alone, as they had support from the fire service, the Fire Brigades Union, and the  Fire Service National Benevolent Fund.

His sister, Shirley, and Mr McGill senior’s two sisters were among the family members at the service on Friday.

He said: “I feel proud and overwhelmed. It is overwhelming that 50 years on he is still being remembered”, adding that his late mother would have been “proud as punch”.

Mr McGill was nine when his father died while his sister was eight and his brother was a baby.

Four other firefighters were treated for injuries following the blaze, including one who fell 30ft.

Mr McGill’s body was found with signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and the woman he was trying to rescue, Alice Mulgrew, 48, also died.

The firefighter was the eighth Glasgow firefighter to die in a fire in three months, with seven dying in the Kilbirnie Street textile warehouse blaze in August, and the 27th to have lost their life in the previous 12 years.

The honour is part of the Fire Brigades Union’s Red Plaque Scheme which commemorates firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

The plaque honours the “bravery and sacrifice” of Adrian McGill.

Seona Hart, FBU Scotland regional treasurer, said: “Adrian McGill made a split-second decision out of care for someone else, a stranger who he had never met before, and a decision which he would have known came with huge risk.

“It is self-sacrifice on an almost indescribable scale. There’s a quote that states that there is no more stirring symbol of our humanity towards others than a fire engine. Adrian McGill and what he did personify that.

“This plaque will ensure that the Glasgow community knows about the sacrifice that Adrian McGill made, and it will help Glasgow’s firefighters remember one of their own.”

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary, said: “Firefighters will always do everything they can to save lives. Adrian McGill’s bravery extended to laying his life down in an attempt to save another.

“It is so important that what he did is never forgotten.”