Barry Martin funeral: Edinburgh firefighter's funeral at St Giles' Cathedral sees thousands turn out

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Firefighters lined the streets to pay respects to their fallen colleague

Thousands gathered in Edinburgh on Friday to pay respects to firefighter Barry Martin who died days after he was injured in a blaze at the Jenners building.

They were joined under clear blue skies by hundreds of firefighters, police officers and other emergency service workers who lined the Royal Mile in working uniform and gathered outside St Giles’ Cathedral, where his funeral service took place. Bagpipes played and a solemn mood hung in the air. Crowds stood in silence as the funeral cortege and hearse arrived at the cathedral for the service at 12.30pm. Funeral cars with floral tributes saying 'Daddy' were followed by a fire engine carrying Mr Martin's coffin, with a helmet placed on top.

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The funeral cortege set out from the McDonald Road Fire Station in Leith where Mr Martin was based as part of the Blue Watch. Members of the Blue Watch – who fire chiefs said got to know Mr Martin the best – were part of the guard of honour and among the pallbearers.

Barry Martin funeral in EdinburghBarry Martin funeral in Edinburgh
Barry Martin funeral in Edinburgh

The Minister opened the private service saying people gathered to mark 'the best in service our country has to offer’ and described Mr Martin as one ‘who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty'. During the service firefighters removed their helmets as a mark of respect to their brave colleague. The service was by invitation only, and there was a private committal afterwards.

In a moving tribute to Mr Martin, Ross Haggart, interim chief officer at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, told of how colleagues described him as caring and considerate. During training, he said, Barry was the first to volunteer to climb a ladder and he once tried to show colleagues how to polish shoes, known as ‘bulling’, which resulted in a hotel floor being covered in marks.

Many who trained with him said they always knew he had their backs. Mr Haggart added that he had been a big fan of the word ‘buzzing’ and said he had remained enthusiastic and passionate throughout his training. Firefighters felt the loss deeply, he said, and he thanked people around the world for their messages of support.

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Lord Provost Robert Aldridge said the city had felt profound shock at the news of Mr Martin’s death. He added that the floral tributes outside Jenners showed how much Mr Martin’s passing had been felt - reflecting the quiet admiration and gratitude for firefighters who put their life on the line day after day.

Following the service, as funeral cars departed carrying the coffin, a wave of applause swept through the crowds.

Mr Martin was one of more than 100 firefighters involved in tackling the "serious and complex fire" at the Jenners building on January 23. The father of two was the first Scottish firefighter to die in the line of duty since Ewan Williamson, who died after being injured in Edinburgh in 2009. Two other firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation in hospital, and two were treated for burns. All four attended the funeral on Friday.

MSPs have called for Mr Martin to be posthumously awarded the George Cross, an accolade which dates back to 1940 and recognises acts of extreme bravery carried out by civilians.

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