Firefighters from Sussex and Surrey stood on parade outside Horsham fire station as part of a moving tribute to John Macfarlane yesterday (Monday August 12).
The popular Horsham man, who died after a short battle with cancer aged 65, was one of the country’s longest serving firefighters.
Around 40 members of staff from both Surrey and West Sussex Fire and Rescue services paid their respects with silence as a procession of honour carrying John made its way past the station in Hurst Road at 12 noon.
It was led by one man walking in front of the hearse and followed by a fire engine.
A Union Jack flag and a helmet had been laid on top of his coffin which was surrounded by floral tributes.
John joined the Auxiliary Fire Service aged 17.
He retired in 2011 after serving more than 45 years in the job.
On July 23 he passed away after being diagnosed with asbestosis of the lungs.
“Not only his friends and family, but the world has lost a really good guy,” said Horsham watch commander Kieran Smith who worked with John for 20 years.
“He was loved by everyone, because he had time for everyone.”
Kieran said the atmosphere on Monday was very sombre and reflective.
He described John as extremely dedicated to his work - a complement which has been echoed by all those who worked with him - and recalls a number of jobs where his thorough investigative skills have led to the successful diagnosis as to the cause of fires.
“I am very sad but I am proud that I knew him,” said the watch commander.
He added John is one of the only firefighters he knew to have moved from the old Horsham fire station which was located near The Capitol into the current one.
John served as both a retained and full-time firefighter.
Later he became a fire investigation officer and was so well thought of his expertise was called upon by authorities outside of West Sussex.
Earlier this month close friend and colleague Henry Senior said John ‘gave his life for the fire service and the community’.
He said: “As a friend he was a lovely bloke. If you talk to old firefighters we have a terrific sense of humour and the jokes we played on each other were great.
“But when it came to firefighters he was very unique, with his dedication to the job. He was an out and out fireman. All he wanted to do was be a fireman and serve the public.”
Members of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service joked that he was regularly late for meetings because so many people wanted to say ‘hi’ and talk to John it would take him a long time to make his way around the building.