Published Tuesday, 11 February 2014
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The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that the man died while responding to a car on fire at Deeny Drive in the Kilwilkie Estate shortly after 9.30pm.
A fire engine was tasked and the blaze was brought under control in just over 10 minutes, but shortly afterwards the crew member 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.
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.
Chief fire officer Chris Kerr
Reacting on Tuesday, 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."
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."
Public Safety Minister Edwin Poots also expressed his condolences.
"I was greatly saddened to hear of the tragic death of the firefighter and extend my deepest sympathies to his family and friends at this extremely difficult time.
"The NI Ambulance Service responded promptly to this emergency and the paramedics are to be commended for their work to treat the firefighter at the scene. I understand that Fire Service colleagues also gave emergency first aid in an effort to save him."
He said: "Our firefighters are highly committed, doing an extremely difficult job. We are all very grateful for the fearless work that they do on a daily basis."
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.
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