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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Tributes for dead firefighters
Adam Meere
Adam Meere only graduated as a firefighter in May
Two firefighters who died after an east London blaze in a three-storey building have been praised by their colleagues.

Bill Faust, 36, and Adam Meere, 27, were among 50 officers who fought the blaze in Bethnal Green Road, at 0400 BST on Tuesday.

London Fire Commissioner Ken Knight said firefighters were feeling the pain of the "tragic" double loss, as were the men's families.

Mr Faust was a father of three and Mr Meere graduated in May.

The pair got into difficulty in the lower part of the building, which contained flats and a shop, where the fire was most severe.

They died soon after arriving at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.

London Fire Commissioner Ken Knight said: "The greatest tragedy is that we've lost two firefighters, one a young man and the other a father with three children under the age of six.

Being told of the deaths was one of the worst days of my career and the worst day since I've been commissioner of the London Fire Brigade
London Fire Commissioner Ken Knight

"We are all grieving for that and we are trying to care for their families as best we can."

The deaths were the first involving firefighters in London since 1993.

"This is a tragic day for the all the fire service," Mr Knight said.

"I am immensely proud of the professionalism of the London Fire Brigade and in particular these two brave firefighters who so tragically lost their lives."

Mr Meere graduated in May and joined the Whitechapel brigade.

"He was a very young man with a very proud father who was a firefighter and a girlfriend whose father was also a firefighter," Mr Knight said.

"They are also feeling the pain."

Mr Faust had been with the London Fire Brigade for seven years and had twin girls aged four and a boy under six.

Mr Knight said that being told of the deaths "was one of the worst days of my career and the worst day since I've been commissioner of the London Fire Brigade."

Scotland Yard was helping fire investigation officers trying to establish the cause of the blaze.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said: "The Prime Minister obviously sends his sympathies to the families. He recognises the debt that we owe firefighters and the risks that they run to protect people at home and at work."

Rescued pair

Two members of the public were also taken to hospital on Tuesday and released after a routine check-up.

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Kelly said that when firefighters arrived at the building they discovered a "serious" fire in the clothes shop and its basement.

He said smoke had reached all floors and was coming out of the windows.

Mr Faust and Mr Meere had entered the building wearing breathing apparatus but colleagues had to rescue them.

Mr Kelly said: "It's a very tragic day for us and it's one of the worst events to befall an organisation like us.

"A lot of my colleagues are very upset and distressed at the moment and we're doing everything possible to help them come through the next few days."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's June Kelly reports from Bethnal Green
"This is a very traumatic day for the London fire service"



SEE ALSO:
Two firefighters killed in blaze
20 Jul 04  |  London


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