15th May 2019
The first female firefighter to die whilst on duty in peacetime Britain has been honoured with a naming ceremony in Bristol. Fleur Lombard died on 4 February 1996 while fighting a blaze started by an arsonist at Leo’s Supermarket, Bristol. At the time she was one of only 8 women serving among Avon's 700 strong force. The naming took place on 14 May at Bristol Temple Meads and was attended by members of her family and friends, along with fire service colleagues.
Nominated as part of Great Western Railway’s 100 Great Westerners by Kerry McCarthy MP, Fleur was originally from Derbyshire but moved to Bristol to begin training as a full time firefighter following a period served as a retained firefighter. Graduating in 1994, she was awarded the Silver Axe Award for the most outstanding recruit in her training school; and was posthumously awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal and the Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation in recognition of her bravery.
GWR's celebration of 100 Great Westerners follows a process where they were nominated by the public through local media and it presents a celebration of both well-known and lesser known figures who are recognised to have made a significant contribution to the area. The other end of this train bears the name of Kathryn Osmond. Kathryn worked as a paramedic for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation (SWAST) for 16 years and passed away aged 41 on her 41st birthday on 18th April 2017 after a battle with melanoma.
Kerry McCarthy, Bristol East MP said:
“I am really pleased that GWR is paying this tribute to the bravery of Fleur Lombard, who tragically lost her life in the line of duty. Public service often goes unrecognised, and Fleur made the ultimate sacrifice, while doing her job. This will help ensure that her bravery is not forgotten. I hope the naming of this train will also act as an opportunity to reflect upon the commitment, dedication and courage of all our firefighters, who continue to risk their own lives to protect their local communities, as we saw most recently in response to the large fire in Speedwell.”
Roger Lombard, Fleur's father said:
“Fleur’s family, friends and work colleagues thank GWR and the good people of the West Country for this initiative and their support in enabling this grand tribute to another brave firefighter.”
GWR Commercial Development Director Matthew Golton said:
“Fleur epitomises the spirit of the Great Western in so many ways: showing such passion and determination in seeking to become a firefighter, and to help others. It is an honour that we are here today to name a train in Fleur’s memory, and alongside Kathryn Osmond, are able to mark our emergency services, not only here in Bristol but, as this train continues its own duties, across the Great Western network that we serve. “
Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Avon Fire & Rescue Service Rob Davis said:
“Fleur was passionate, enthusiastic and doing the job she loved, serving her community as a Firefighter and helping others at moments of great need and distress. She encompassed this role as a true professional. With the naming of this train, Bristolians and people from across the South West through to London will forever see Fleur’s name and her memory will live on as a young, brave and courageous firefighter who is dearly missed within Avon FRS and beyond. The train will be a permanent reminder of this extraordinary woman who did an extraordinary job, paying the ultimate price in protecting the community of Bristol.”
Author: Darren Porter