Posthumous award for Sheffield firefighter

Sheffield firefighters including, far right, Paul Parkin
Sheffield firefighters including, far right, Paul Parkin
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A brave South Yorkshire firefighter who died in the line of duty has been honoured 40 years after his death.

Paul Parkin was just 27 years old when he died in an explosion at a Sheffield steel works.

L-R: Lord Lieutenant for South Yorkshire David Moody, Mark Ashton, Lord Mayor of Sheffield Coun Peter Rippon and Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Shaw

L-R: Lord Lieutenant for South Yorkshire David Moody, Mark Ashton, Lord Mayor of Sheffield Coun Peter Rippon and Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Shaw

Five fire engines had been called to British Steel’s Tinsley Park Works on Shepcote Lane in February 1974 after bricks came away from a furnace wall and molten iron oxide slag began to leak onto the floor.

The initial incident was quickly dealt with, but without warning there was a massive explosion, injuring 11 firefighters and two British Steel workers.

Paul and colleague Bob Smith, 47, were trying to cool an over-heating furnace when it blew.

They were both rushed to hospital but died from the severity of their injuries.

The blast had been so severe it was heard more than half a mile away and described as sounding ‘just like a bomb’.

Both firefighters already have rooms named in their honour at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s city centre headquarters on Eyre Street.

The posthumous bravery award for Paul, who had two children and a baby on the way when tragedy struck, was presented by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Peter Rippon, to the firefighter’s family.

Dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant for South Yorkshire, David Moody; Fire Authority Chairman, Jim Andrews and Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Mark Shaw, also attended the event.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Shaw, said: “I know Paul will never be forgotten by his family and friends who knew and loved him.

“It is just as important for it to be known that Paul’s sacrifice will never be forgotten by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and the people of Sheffield. That is why this presentation is important. It shows that, 40 years on, we still remember.”

Paul’s proud son, Mark Ashton, said: “It’s been a real honour to pick up this award on behalf of my dad and it’s reassuring to know that his sacrifice is still remembered all these years later.”