Firefighter 's funeral procession led by fire truck he trained on

Firefighter 's funeral procession led by fire truck he trained on

Mourners pay tribute to firefighter who died aged 80 with funeral procession led by Merryweather Turntable engine that he trained on in the 1960s

  • Former London Fire Brigade firefighter Michael Burke died last month aged 80 
  • Tributes were paid to Michael with a funeral procession in the truck he trained in
  • His coffin was driven through Beckenham in the Merryweather Turntable engine 
  • Michael joined the brigade in 1963 aged 22 after moving to London from Ireland 

Mourners paid tribute to a firefighter, who died last month aged 80, with a funeral procession led by the vintage fire engine he trained on in the 1960s.

Michael Burke, who served for 30 years, had trained on the Merryweather Turntable engine at New Cross Fire Station after joining the London Fire Brigade in 1963 at 22 years old. 

Michael was barely able to read and write when he moved to the UK from Ireland – where he was a farmer.

He did extra training on the fire engine in 1966 and 1968 and today the same truck drove through Beckenham Cemetery after processing through the town.

 Mourners paid tribute to firefighter Michael Burke, who served for 30 years, with a procession led by the vintage fire engine he trained on in the 1960s

Michael had trained on the Merryweather Turntable engine at New Cross Fire Station after joining the London Fire Brigade in 1963 at 22 years old

Michael was barely able to read and write when he moved to the UK from Ireland – where he was a farmer (Pictured: Michael holding the London 2012 Olympic torch)

A few months ago he and his daughter Lorraine sat in his flat in Sydenham and planned to visit the old truck.

However her dad’s condition deteriorated and they never made it.

He loved the trucks and when he retired after 30 years of service he bought his own truck to keep in his yard, but not the one he trained on.

During his retirement he also joined a group of fire fighters to restore one of them.

Lorraine managed to borrow the truck her father had trained on and decided to make it the centre of the funeral.

The truck went through the town, passing Beckenham fire station – one of several stations Michael worked at.

Lorraine said he had done a lot of training on the Merryweather Turntable fire engine, which she described as like having the ‘most famous Jaguar’ to a fire person.

She said: ‘A few months back I was sitting in his flat and we were talking about this fire engine and I asked if he’d like to see it. He said yes.

‘When he retired, much to my mum’s horror, he bought his own fire engine.

‘There wouldn’t be a fireman that doesn’t know this apparatus – a normal person would think it’s just a piece of equipment.

‘But if you’re a fire person, you would know exactly what this represents. It’s bit like your boss having the most famous Jaguar, it’s a symbol.

‘When my dad got very ill a few months back before he died, I thought “My dad’s gonna go out, and has got to go out in style”.

‘He’s got to go out on the vehicle that I promised to take him on before he got sick.’

The firefighter, from Ballinrobe, Mayo, was the last surviving of four brothers.

The truck went through the town, passing Beckenham fire station – one of several stations Michael worked at

The firefighter (pictured), from Ballinrobe, Mayo, was the last surviving of four brothers

When he died last month at the age of 80 he was the oldest age any of his family ever reached.

He grew up in poverty after his father died before he was born and shared one bedroom with his three brothers. 

Lorraine told how he didn’t learn what a toothbrush was until he saw one at his friend’s house aged 10.

He retired aged 52 in 1993 – which is late for a fire fighter.

Aged 69, alongside another group of fire fighters, Michael ran the Tunnel Towers 5k to commemorate those who died in 9/11.

In his spare time he was also a self-taught musician and played in pubs, clubs and churches in Ireland and England.

Lorraine said he had done a lot of training on the Merryweather Turntable fire engine, which she described as like having the ‘most famous Jaguar’ to a fire person

loved the trucks and when he retired after 30 years of service he bought his own truck to keep in his yard, but not the one he trained on

When he retired he concentrated all his efforts on that and the fire engine.

Lorraine said: ‘I think my dad will be pleased.

‘He was very softly spoken but his presence in a room was huge, if he walked into a room he didn’t have to say anything.

‘He would know you all by name and he would remember your name for the rest of his life.

‘I was really honoured to be his daughter. I saw him yesterday in the crematorium and touched his head and said I am so proud to be your daughter, I couldn’t have asked for a better dad.

‘He’s always been there, he was never judgemental, never spoke down to someone, a gentleman and a gentle man. He would give you his time.’

Source: Read Full Article