Tributes paid to world's oldest retired North East firefighter after death at 109

Retired firefighter and World War Two veteran Joe Dixon died on Thursday (January 19) - with the chief fire officer of Tyne and Wear&nbsp;paying&nbsp;tribute to him. <i>(Image: NORTHERN ECHO)</i>
Retired firefighter and World War Two veteran Joe Dixon died on Thursday (January 19) - with the chief fire officer of Tyne and Wear paying tribute to him. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to the world's oldest retired firefighter from the North East after he died two months after celebrating his 109th birthday.

Retired firefighter and World War Two veteran Joe Dixon died on Thursday (January 19) - with the chief fire officer of Tyne and Wear paying tribute to him.

Joe was born in 1913, in Walker, in the East End of Newcastle.

He started his working life in a local butcher’s shop before realising his dream job of becoming a firefighter in 1937.

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Joe worked his way up through the ranks and eventually became a sub-officer before volunteering alongside three of his firefighter colleagues in 1943 to assist with the war efforts.

During the Second World War, Joe served in the RAF Bomber Command as a flight engineer and flew over 24 missions after its conclusion in 1945, he returned to working as a firefighter.

Throughout his time in the Fire Service, Joe lived in the Newcastle city centre married quarters at Pilgrim Street with his wife Lydia, where they raised their two sons Robert and John and enjoyed the company of four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The Northern Echo: Joe Dixon - 109th birthday (photo credit - TWFRS)
The Northern Echo: Joe Dixon - 109th birthday (photo credit - TWFRS)

Joe Dixon - 109th birthday (photo credit - TWFRS) (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

On Firefighter Dixon’s 100th birthday, staff at TWFRS reunited him with a ‘blast from the past’ at Service headquarters in Washington.

When he was able to sit in the driver’s seat of a 1937 Leyland Cub fire engine, one of his first-ever fire appliances.

He was also presented with a specially engraved medal.

The Northern Echo: Image 2 - Retired firefighter Joe Dixon pictured on his 105th birthday at TWFRS Service Headquarters (photo credit - TWFRS)
The Northern Echo: Image 2 - Retired firefighter Joe Dixon pictured on his 105th birthday at TWFRS Service Headquarters (photo credit - TWFRS)

Image 2 - Retired firefighter Joe Dixon pictured on his 105th birthday at TWFRS Service Headquarters (photo credit - TWFRS) (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Up until the last few years, Joe regularly visited operational firefighters across the region to pass on his knowledge and expertise.

Joe’s family confirmed that he passed away peacefully on Thursday afternoon (January 19) at Scarborough Court in Cramlington, Northumberland.

He was a distinguished and much-loved member of the North East firefighting and emergency service community, according to those that knew him best.

The Northern Echo: Image 1 - 100 year old retired firefighter Joe Dixon pictured in front of a 1930s fire appliance he used to drive and with a specially engraved medal from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service
The Northern Echo: Image 1 - 100 year old retired firefighter Joe Dixon pictured in front of a 1930s fire appliance he used to drive and with a specially engraved medal from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

Image 1 - 100 year old retired firefighter Joe Dixon pictured in front of a 1930s fire appliance he used to drive and with a specially engraved medal from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

On Monday (January 23) chief fire officer Chris Lowther, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), paid tribute to Joe.

He 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.

The Northern Echo: Image 4 - Joe Dixon - archive images (FF Dixon second from the right)
The Northern Echo: Image 4 - Joe Dixon - archive images (FF Dixon second from the right)

Image 4 - Joe Dixon - archive images (FF Dixon second from the right) (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

“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.”

"Joe will be sadly missed by all of his family.

"Firefighter Dixon - we salute you. What a legend."