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Horsham firefighter who died from lung disease ‘gave his life’ to service
Tributes have been paid to one the country’s longest-serving firefighters who “gave his life” to the service.
John ‘Johnny Mac’ Mcfarlane died aged 65 from an asbestos-related lung disease just two years after retiring.
The Horsham grandfather, who died on July 23, served for 46 years and was celebrated for going Beyond the Call of Duty at the Argus Achievement Awards in 2005.
He became an auxiliary firefighter in 1965 aged 17 and worked his way up to become a leading fire investigator.
The ground-breaking team he set up investigated the Lewes firework factory explosion which killed two colleagues in 2006.
Mr Mcfarlane could have retired and drawn a full pension after 30 years but chose to stay on because he loved his job so much.
Michael ‘Henry’ Senior, 63, who served with John for some 20 years, said: “The disease that killed him was probably attributable to the job. You could say he gave his life to the fire service.
“When he first joined we didn’t wear breathing apparatus.
When a fire was out and you went in you could also get exposed to asbestos.
“I’ve had some shocks in my time but when a lifelong friend and colleague tells you they’ve got three months to live it takes the wind out of your sails. It’s not often I’ve cried as a fireman.
“No one can believe that he’s been taken at such a young age.
“Without a doubt the world is a lesser place without him.”
As head of the West Sussex fire investigations team he solved countless arsons.
His team worked on hundreds of cases and became a model for similar projects around the UK.
Mr Senior added: “He was true professional who was totally methodical and engrossed in his work.
“In the early days we wouldn’t think twice about going into a blazing building, that’s what being a fireman was all about.”
Hundreds are expected to turn out to see a guard of honour at Horsham fire station before a funeral at Surrey and Sussex Crematorium, Worth, on Monday, August 12.
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