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Tributes to 'popular' fireman found hanged at station

Published 18/10/2015

The firefighter's death sparked an outpouring of shock on Twitter
The firefighter's death sparked an outpouring of shock on Twitter

A firefighter found hanged at the Manchester station where he worked has been described as "extremely well liked and popular member" of the brigade.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said it was "extremely sad" to confirm that on-duty firefighter Lee Gaunt, 41, was found dead at Stalybridge Fire Station on Sunday morning.

Crew manager Mr Gaunt had been working the night shift as part of Green Watch when he was discovered by a colleague at 4.40am.

His colleagues attempted to revive him but he was pronounced dead a short time afterwards.

County fire officer and chief executive Peter O'Reilly met Mr Gaunt's colleagues in Stalybridge Fire Station earlier to pay tribute him, adding that the news had left the fire service "utterly distraught".

He said: "We are devastated by Lee's death. He was an extremely well liked and popular member of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and we are utterly distraught that he has gone. We have contacted everyone on Green Watch this morning and it has left the entire Service in shock. Our firefighters are brave people but this will test our strength to the extreme."

He added that priorities would be to offer support to Mr Gaunt's family.

"We have three priorities today - to look after Lee's family, his watch and everyone else who is part of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service family. We are all so sad and it will take some time to sink in but we are supporting each other as much as we can.

"In time, through police investigations and the coronial process, we will begin to understand what has happened but for now my thoughts are with Lee's family and all his friends."

A statement released by the brigade said: "Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is extremely sad that an on-duty firefighter was found dead at Stalybridge Fire Station this morning."

Following the news tributes began to pour in on social media sites.

Mandy Saunders described him as one of the "finest" firemen in the Tameside area who had fit smoke alarms for deaf people.

On Facebook she said: "This was one our finest firemen in Tameside who fit our smoke alarms for deaf people in Tameside . My deepest sympathies go to his family and colleagues in the fire services. So sad xxx RIP lee gaunt . From Mandy Saunders and DEAF TEAM ( Tameside MBC)."

Jamie Holt wrote on Facebook: "RIP lee saved so many lifes what a legend."

Secretary for the Fire Brigades Union Greater Manchester Gary Keary said: "The Fire Brigades Union are deeply saddened to hear about Lee's sudden passing.

"Our thoughts are with Lee's family, friends and colleagues at this time."

The Twitter account @StalybridgeTown tweeted: "Some sad news this morning from our Fire Service. Our thoughts are with Green Watch and the families effected... "

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Middleton and Heywood both tweeted: "We may at times share banter but today our thoughts are with @manchesterfire following the tragic passing of one of their Firefighters RIP."

On Twitter, Manchester Fire and Rescue Service responded to the tributes.

The tweet from @manchesterfire simply read: " Thank you so much for all your kind words, we are utterly devastated, our thoughts with the family and our crew."

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service later tweeted to say that it would be flying flags at half mast in memory of Mr Gaunt.

The tweet read: "We are flying our flags at half mast at every station in memory of Lee and to show unity with our colleagues in Stalybridge #ripLee."

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