Tributes to former firefighter who has died aged 109

Tributes have been paid to a “hero” believed to be the world’s oldest retired firefighter after he died aged 109.

Joe Dixon, who also served on bombing missions in World War Two, was a firefighter on Tyneside for 27 years until he retired in 1964.

He kept his links with what was to become Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, and its chief fire officer Chris Lowther said: “Joe Dixon was a credit to his family, friends, the community he served, and to everyone associated with the wider Fire Service.

“With almost three decades of service, Joe’s lasting legacy will ultimately act as an inspiration for the next generation of firefighters.

“Even at the age of 109, he continued to be an ambassador for the fire and rescue service and his dedication and devotion will live on for years to come.

“He was a friend, a firefighter, a hero. We will never forget the sacrifices he made for our communities.”

Retired firefighter Joe Dixon pictured on his 105th birthday at TWFRS Service Headquarters (TWFRS)
Retired firefighter Joe Dixon pictured on his 105th birthday at TWFRS Service Headquarters (TWFRS)

Born in Walker, Newcastle, in 1913, Mr Dixon worked in a butcher’s shop before realising his dream and becoming a fireman in 1937.

He was to serve as a flight engineer with RAF Bomber Command and flew more than 24 missions during the war, before returning to his duties with the fire service, living and working in the Newcastle’s Pilgrim Street fire station.

It was in the station’s married quarters that he and his wife Lydia raised their two sons Robert and John, and he went on to have four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

On his 100th birthday, the fire service celebrated with him by inviting him to sit in a 1937 Leyland Cub engine – the same model he would have used when he joined in 1937.

Mr Dixon was also presented with a specially engraved medal.

Even past his 100th birthday, Mr Dixon regularly visited operational firefighters across the region to pass on his knowledge and expertise.

His family said he died peacefully at Scarborough Court care home in Cramlington, Northumberland, on Thursday.