20 years on, crews pay tribute to Fleur
Published on: 28 Feb 2016
IT is hard to believe it was 20 years ago when the entire nation mourned the death of firefighter Fleur Lombard.
The 21-year-old lost her life while tackling a ferocious fire at Leo’s supermarket in Staple Hill.
To mark the anniversary of her tragic death, both serving and former staff from across Avon Fire & Rescue Service came together at the memorial dedicated to her in Broad Street.
The ceremony, on February 4, featured a poignant minute’s silence in tribute to her memory.
The AF&RS Drill Squad laid a wreath on behalf of Chief Fire Officer Kevin Pearson.
The chairman of Avon Fire Authority, councillor Peter Abraham, laid a wreath on behalf of Avon Fire Authority and Avon Fire & Rescue Service.
Former Chief Fire Officer of Avon Fire Brigade, John Terry OBE, laid a wreath on behalf of the Lombard family. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) also laid wreaths.
Chief Fire Officer Kevin Pearson said: “On Thursday 4 February 1996 Avon Fire Brigade, as the organisation was then known, was called to reports of a serious fire in Leo’s supermarket in the Staple Hill area.
“Tragically the fire claimed the life of 21-year-old Fleur, who at the time was one of only eight women employed by Avon Fire Brigade. Every year since Fleur’s death our staff mark the anniversary and there is no doubt in my mind that she will never be forgotten.
“We hope this tribute will show that the memory of Fleur lives on, but so too does her legacy.
“She was awarded the Silver Axe for the best recruit on her graduation from training, and in recognition of this characteristic the Fleur Lombard Bursary was set up. The bursary gives fire and rescue service staff the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to fund study into firefighting and learning from other services across the world.”
Fleur was the first female firefighter to die on duty in peacetime Britain.
She was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal and Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation in recognition of her amazing bravery.
Two of her colleagues who were with her that day were also awarded the George Medal and the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.
A keen windsurfer, Fleur’s ashes were interred at St Enodoc Church in Trebetherick, Cornwall, which overlooks Daymer Bay - a windsurfer’s haven.
On graduating in 1994, Fleur received the Silver Axe Award, for most outstanding recruit on her training school.
After Fleur’s tragic death a trust fund was set up as a fitting tribute to her bravery, courage, dedication and professionalism. The Fleur Lombard Bursary aims to keep Fleur’s values alive, helping others progress their careers in the fire and rescue service.
The fire was started deliberately by security guard Martin Cody. He received a prison sentence of seven-and-a-half years for manslaughter and arson.v