Tribute to former firefighter Alan Stow who fought the York Minster fire

Alan Stow, who served in the fire service for 30 years, passed away on May 6th.

Alan, who was born in Rugby in 1939, was among the fire brigade who were called to York Minster in the early hours of 9 July 1984 to receive reports of flames in the historic building.

Upon his arrival, as the senior firefighter present, he was the first commander in control as members of York’s Red Watch were already fighting the blaze.

York Press: York Minster during the July 1984 fireYork Minster during the July 1984 fire (Image: Included)

Alan described this as his “career defining moment” when 114 firefighters and 10 officers from across North Yorkshire managed to contain the South Transcept fire by collapsing the roof, preventing the fire from spreading to the main tower , and the fire released Hot gases form in the building.

Recalling that fateful night, Alan once told The Press: “If it had spread, the entire cathedral would have burned out. It depended on the courage, skill and dedication of firefighters to prevent it. It’s beautiful.” Building had to be saved.

“Although I’ve been on many major fires throughout my career, nothing in my experience has ever had such a big impact on me.”

He joined the Rugby Fire Service in 1961. He served in various Warwickshire stations for 12 years before coming to Northallerton in 1972 after being promoted to Deputy Division Officer.

A further promotion in 1974 resulted in divisional commander at Scarborough with responsibility for 12 local stations. His family said they would always remember the smell from days spent battling bog and forest fires in the hot summer of 1976.

York Press: Alan Stow was part of the fire service that tackled the 1984 York Minster fireAlan Stow was part of the fire service that fought the 1984 York Minster fire (Image: Included)

Another promotion took him to York in 1978 as a divisional commander.

Alan retired from service in 1992 and assumed the role of fire consultant at York and District Hospital until 1998.

Alan joined the York and Ainsty Rotary Club in 1980 and has been a charitable member for 42 years.

York Press: Alan Stow has been a member of various fire departments for 30 yearsAlan Stow has been a member of various fire departments for 30 years (Image: David Harrison)

Alan’s son-in-law Nick Enticknap said, “Your motto ‘Service Above Self’ couldn’t represent the man better.”

“He could be seen with a collection tin, planting daffodils by the side of the road, organizing runs through town, and helping Santa fund rides through the suburbs every year on his Christmas float.”

CONTINUE READING: A night they will never forget – the fire at York Minster remembered

Moving to North Yorkshire sparked Alan’s keen interest in the outdoors as he walked hundreds of miles. He was a member of the Long Distance Walking Association, joined the RSPB and was a long-time member of the York Ornithological Club.

Alan met his wife Sue when she was a secretary with the Warwickshire Fire Service and they married in 1964. He also leaves behind two children, Brian and Angela, and three grandchildren, Poppy, Ruby and Dan.

Nick added: “We all miss him dearly, he was such an incredible role model, he made time to help friends, neighbors and even complete strangers.”

York Press: Alan has also been a member of York Rotary for more than 40 yearsAlan has also been a member of York Rotary for more than 40 years (Image: Included)

A memorial service for Alan will be held at 12 noon on Thursday 8 June at St Edward the Confessor Church, Tadcaster Road.

There is no dress code, no flowers, but donations to St. Leonard’s Hospice, for which Alan has raised a lot of money. Tribute to former firefighter Alan Stow who fought the York Minster fire

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