Firefighter Commander Miller receives gallantry medal

A firefighter based in Limavady who braved intense flames to rescue a colleague has been awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

Gavin Miller was attending a blaze at Gorteen House Hotel in Limavady in November 2003 when fellow firefighter Joe McCloskey was injured.

Crew Commander Miller dedicated the award to the family of Joe McCloskey who died in hospital from his injuries.

He said: "My thoughts are and always have been with them."

The father-of-five from Dungiven died the day after falling through the roof of a storeroom at the back of the hotel.

He lived long enough to say goodbye to his wife and children.

The hotel had been targeted in an arson attack.

Commander Miller added: "I would also like to dedicate the award to all my colleagues who fought the fire on that tragic night.

"It is such a privilege and inspiration to work with such courageous people every day."

Crew Commander Miller is a part-time firefighter at Limavady Fire Station. He joined the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) in 1998 and was promoted to his current post in 2009.

He is married to Nuala and has a young son.

Deserved

Tom Wright, Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said that everyone in the service was delighted for their colleague.

"It is so rightly deserved and we as an organisation are incredibly proud of him.

"NIFRS has worked tirelessly to have Gavin recognised at the highest level for his unparralled bravery.

"Today however is also a sad day for NIFRS as we remember the loss of our colleague Leading Firefighter Joe McCloskey at the tragic fire at Gorteen House Hotel in Limavady on 1 November 2003.

"Joe remains in all our thoughts."

Eoin Doyle, Western Area Commander, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said Crew Commander Millier "truly represents what working for the fire and resuce service is all about".

The Queen's Gallantry Medal was instituted in 1974 to recognise acts of exemplary bravery.

Fewer than 600 have been awarded.

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