Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Royal honour for hero firefighter

Firefighter Gavin Miller battled flames to rescue 50-year-old Joe McCloskey

A firefighter who helped keep a dying friend alive long enough to say his final farewells to his family is to be honoured for his heroics by the Queen.

Gavin Miller battled flames in the Gorteen House Hotel near Limavady to rescue 50-year-old Joe McCloskey, who fell through a storeroom roof and suffered severe burns.

The firefighter's bravery in November 2003 gave the father-of-five a few hours in hospital, time for his wife and kids to say goodbye and for him to tell them he loved them.

"I'm honoured and grateful to receive this award," Mr Miller said.

"I know if Joe had have been in my shoes he would have done the same for me.

Mr Miller, a firefighter crew commander, is being honoured with The Queen's Gallantry Medal, awarded to civilians for acts of bravery.

He lived near Mr McCloskey between Dungiven and Limavady and arrived on the scene after the accident, put on breathing apparatus and set about rescuing his colleague.

The storeroom was described as a fire ball with temperatures in excess of 1,000C.

Mr Miller was eventually helped by two other firefighters after dragging his friend out of the building. He suffered heat exhaustion and burns and had to be doused in water to put out the flames on his protective gear.

Mr McCloskey, who asked not to be sedated before getting to see his family in Altnagelvin Hospital, died the day after the fire on November 2, 2003.

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