Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Friday, 25 January 2008

Warehouse fire victims remembered

Firefighters attending  memorial
Firefighters lined the steps of Coventry Cathedral

Hundreds of firefighters have attended a memorial service to remember four of their colleagues killed in a warehouse blaze in Warwickshire.

Ashley Stephens, 20, John Averis, 27, Darren Yates-Badley, 24, and Ian Reid, 44, died as the result of the fire in Atherstone-on-Stour on 2 November.

Mr Stephen's father, Paul, also a fireman, told the congregation he had "lost three good friends and a son".

About 1,400 people attended the service at Coventry Cathedral.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued Warwickshire fire service with an improvement notice after the blaze.

The service was conducted by the cathedral's Canon Adrian Daffern and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service's chaplain Canon David Capron.

'Never forgotten'

It began with a procession bearing the standards of every fire and rescue service in the UK.

As the flag-bearers and clergy walked through the packed cathedral, the congregation sang Onward Christian Soldiers, a hymn chosen by the family of Ashley Stephens.

Hymns for the service were also chosen by the other bereaved families.

Clockwise from top left: Ashley Stephens, Darren Yates-Badley, John Averis and Ian Reid
The four were trying to tackle a fire at a vegetable-packing plant

Paul Stephens, watch manager with the Warwickshire fire service, also attended the warehouse fire. He told the congregation how on that night "my worst nightmare started to unfold".

He said: "My last words to them: 'Be careful'."

He added: "Four heroes paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what they loved best - firefighting.

"You live on in our hearts forever and you will never be forgotten. God bless you."

Three of the firefighters died as they attempted to tackle the blaze in a vegetable warehouse. Mr Reid died in hospital after his body was dragged from the burning warehouse.

The bodies of the other men were given a guard of honour when they were taken out of the wreckage following an extensive search.

Last week it was revealed that an investigation has found officers were not given enough information before attending the scene.

Warwickshire county fire officer, William Brown earlier described the remembrance service as "our final goodbye".

He said: "It will allow us to collectively celebrate the lives of John, Ian, Ashley and Darren, all of whom were all very brave men dedicated to a job they loved."

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