A firefighter based at Lurgan station who died while on duty last night has been named as Nial Hamilton.
The 44 year old and his colleagues were responding to a car on fire at Deeny Drive in the Kilwilkee estate at around 9.30pm.
A fire engine was tasked and the blaze was brought under control in just over 10 minutes. It is understand the fire was caused by an electrical fault.
However shortly after the fire was extinguished the fireman collapsed at the scene.
He was Nial Hamilton, a 44-year-old father of two from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.
Mr Hamilton joined the then Northern Ireland Fire Brigade on 24 September 1990 serving initially in Cadogan and Knock Fire Stations in Belfast before moving to Lurgan Fire Station.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Kerr said: “Today is an extremely sad day for NIFRS and our wider Fire Service family as we mourn the sudden and untimely death of our much respected colleague firefighter Nial Hamilton who died while on operational duty last night.
“Our thoughts are very much with Nial’s wife Ruth and their two young sons, Alex and Rory, at this difficult time.
“The circumstances of Nial’s death are currently under investigation and a post mortem is being carried out to determine the cause of his death.”
He added: “I would like to pay tribute to Nial’s colleagues who gave immediate first aid and requested an ambulance. Nial was treated at the scene by paramedics and was taken by ambulance to Craigavon Area Hospital and despite the best efforts of all the medical staff he tragically later died.”
I had the privilege of serving with Nial when he was a firefighter in Belfast and I can tell you all of the wider fire and rescue service family are shocked and saddened by the news of his untimely death.
A Health and Safety Executive NI spokesperson said: “HSENI have been made aware of the tragic death of a fireman and are currently investigating.
“Our deepest sympathies are with the family at this most difficult time.”
Jim Wallace, NIFRS Chief Executive sent his deepest condolences and sympathy to Mr Hamilton’s family, friends and colleagues.
“Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service is a very close knit organisation and today we are all feeling the pain and loss of Nial’s death. We have offered his family our full support at this very difficult time,” he said.
Mr Hamilton’s Area Commander, John Denvir added: “On behalf of everyone at Lurgan Fire Station who served alongside Nial and all his colleagues throughout Portadown District and Southern Area Command, we are devastated following the death of our friend and colleague, Firefighter Nial Hamilton.
“Our thoughts are with his wife and sons, his family circle and his many friends and colleagues. Nial was a dedicated Firefighter, a very popular member of our team and he had a very promising career ahead of him. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.”
As a mark of respect, the NIFRS flag is being flown at half-mast at all NIFRS premises and a minute silence was held at NIFRS Headquarters at 11am.