THE wife of an off-duty firefighter, who died after falling 12ft into a basement outside a West End pub, has paid tribute to the “beloved husband and father”.
The body of 46-year-old Alan Brown was discovered outside Bert’s Bar on William Street in the early hours of yesterday morning.
His firefighter colleagues spoke of the “larger-than-life character”, who had nearly 20 years of service behind him and was based at the Sighthill station.
Officers are treating Mr Brown’s death as “unexplained”, but it is believed he fell from the pavement into the basement during a night out. Detectives are probing a theory that he may have tumbled through a gate in the railings.
His firefighter colleagues cut away a section of the spiked railings yesterday to remove them for examination by police.
In her tribute, Mrs Brown said: “Alan was a beloved husband and father. He will be greatly missed. As a family we now need time to come to terms with this tragic event and grieve Alan’s loss.”
Area Manager John Dickie, Edinburgh’s senior officer with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We were devastated to learn of the sudden death of our colleague and friend, Watch Manager Alan Brown.
“Crews from Tollcross and Newcraighall fire stations were mobilised to the incident. Firefighters used line rescue equipment to recover him and move him to the waiting ambulance but tragically Alan was pronounced dead at the scene.
“He was a well-known and very popular member of staff, a larger-than-life character, with many good friends across the service.”
Mr Brown, who lived in Edinburgh, joined Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service in January 1995.
Many of his friends, including several firefighters, updated their Facebook profile pictures to a flat red line in tribute to their late colleague.
Andy Fulton, east Scotland representative of the Fire Brigade Union, said: “We’re devastated by the news of Alan’s death. He was a good friend and colleague, and will be sorely missed by everyone in the fire service.
“He was a big character who was always smiling and joking. Everyone who knew him will have fond memories of Alan and no doubt a few stories about his antics. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Alan’s family.”
Floral tributes were left outside the pub last night. One message read: “Will miss your smiley face. Gone too soon.”
Police believe Mr Brown had visited bars in the area during the course of Thursday evening, and officers have traced a witness who spoke to him at around 1am. His body was found at 1.40am.
Detective Sergeant Neil Spowart appealed for anyone who saw Mr Brown between 1am and 1.40am to come forward. He added it was a “possibility” the firefighter had fallen through a gate in the railings. It is understood Mr Brown was not in Bert’s Bar during the evening.
A bar spokeswoman said: “We are co-operating with authorities and have no further comment, except to say our thoughts are with the family.”