Updated: Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 @ 5:30pm

Fire chief praises Stephen Hunt's ‘ultimate sacrifice’ on anniversary of Manchester blaze that claimed his life

Fire chief praises Stephen Hunt's ‘ultimate sacrifice’ on anniversary of Manchester blaze that claimed his life

| By Richard Browne

Tragic firefighter Stephen Hunt who died battling a Northern Quarter blaze one year ago today made the 'ultimate sacrifice', says the chief fire officer.

The Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Steve Mcguirk, has led the tributes to Stephen, who lost his life one year ago.

Mr Mcguirk, who is also the County Fire Officer, tweeted about Stephen’s ‘ultimate sacrifice’ ahead of memorial services marking the day he was killed battling a blaze in the Northern Quarter.

Stephen, 38, was one of 60 firefighters called to deal with the Oldham Street inferno, and got into difficulty inside Paul's Hair World with a colleague.

Both were pulled out and taken to hospital but Stephen, from Philips Park Fire Station, later died.

At the time, Mr Mcguirk said: “We are devastated by the loss of one of our colleagues who has died in the line of duty.

“We never expect to lose a colleague in this way and it brings home the dangers that our firefighters put themselves in every day to keep the community safe.

“Stephen had been a dedicated firefighter since 2008 and we are all in a state of shock.

“It is a very sad day for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and all our thoughts are with Stephen's family and friends.”

Floral tributes were laid out at the scene, including a message from Blackley Fire Station’s Red Watch ‘to a fallen brother’.

The father-of-two’s family hailed him as an ‘old-fashioned gentleman’.

“The whole family will miss spending time with Stephen none more so than his son, daughter and grandmother,” they said.

“We loved his sense of humour and are very proud of him and what he brought to our lives.”

Books of condolence were set up in various locations, as well as online, and received thousands of messages from across the UK and the world – Mr McGuirk describing the public support as ‘phenomenal’.

Stephen’s funeral took place in Bury Parish Church on September 3 2013, with more than 1,000 fire officers, emergency services personnel and public lining the streets.

This Sunday’s memorial service will take place from 2pm in St Ann's Church in St Ann Street, Manchester, with the service to be broadcast outside via a public address system.

Mr McGuirk said: “Stephen died protecting the community he loved and we would like to invite the public to join us in remembrance this Sunday.”