Obituary: On-call firefighter dedicated life to community

Obituary: David Curtis. Funeral procession with people lining the route, Saffron Walden, Essex

Fire and ambulance service personnel, and the public, line the route to pay respects to the late David Curtis in Saffron Walden - Credit: Celia Bartlett

People lined the streets in Saffron Walden for the final 'shout' of former firefighter David Curtis.

Dave, who died suddenly aged 73 after a cardiac arrest at home, dedicated his life to serving the community.

The funeral procession paused as it made its way past his home and past Saffron Walden Fire Station, on its way to St Mary's Church.

The procession included a vintage table ladder from The Essex Fire Museum. Its bell was rung three times as the coffin entered the church, and again on its exit.

Obituary: The late David Curtis of Saffron Walden, Essex, pictured in firefighting gear

The late David Curtis, an on-call firefighter in Saffron Walden, who has died - Credit: Photo supplied by the Curtis family

As an on-call firefighter, Dave attended thousands of call-outs over 35 years from January 1970 to January 2005, and rose through the ranks over the years to become Station Officer in Charge at Saffron Walden in 1985.

He joined the service after his father-in-law Roy Vincent, a long-serving retained firefighter, encouraged him to join him on a training night.

This was shortly after Roy had been at the Rose & Crown Hotel fire in Market Square, Saffron Walden.

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It proved to be an interesting and diverse on-call firefighting career.

During the heatwave of 1976, Dave spent weeks fighting fires in Epping Forest. Fire crews from across Essex and London gave their all across the summer.

In the Great Storm of 1987, he spent over 24 hours on the fire engine, as the crew attended dozens of storm-related incidents ranging from collapsed buildings to trees that had fallen on homes.

In the early 90s, he attended more than 100 multi-vehicle road traffic collisions in dense fog on the M11.

He was called to aircraft-related incidents at Stansted Airport, ranging from hijacks in the late 1970s and early 1980s to the Leeds Football Club and Korean air crashes.

Further afield, he attended an incident at a large fuel storage tank farm fire at the Shell Haven oil refinery on the Thames Estuary and the 30 pump fire at Centre Parks holiday village near Thetford in Norfolk, alongside crews from across East Anglia.

A keen first aider, Dave and his colleagues Sub Officer Chris Phillipson, Leading Fire Fighter Steve Lee, Fire Fighter Andy Mitson and Fire Fighter Roy Vincent often won regional fire service and utility company First Aid competitions.

Obituary: The late Dave Curtis seen with firefighter colleagues and a trophy, Essex

The late Dave Curtis and colleagues with a trophy, Saffron Walden, Essex - Credit: Photo supplied by the Curtis family

He also raised many thousands of pounds for charity, including helping to raise £8,500 to support the families of the 343 firefighters killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA.

His primary occupation outside the fire service was as an electrician. He later worked as a Highways Agency Traffic Officer.

He is survived by wife Jeanette and sons Paul, Mark and Richard, and five grandchildren.

Saffron Walden obituary: The late Dave Curtis on his wedding day to Jeanette.

The late Dave Curtis seen here on his wedding day to childhood sweetheart Jeanette - Credit: Photo supplied by the Curtis family


Obituary: David Curtis death. Picture shows the funeral procession led past his home with fire engines following, Essex

The funeral procession is led past the Saffron Walden family home of David Curtis - Credit: Celia Bartlett

Obituary: David Curtis. The firefighting vintage table ladder stopped outside the family home, Saffron Walden

The vintage table ladder from the Essex Fire Museum, driven by Roger Pickett, stopped outside the family home of David Curtis during his funeral procession - Credit: Celia Bartlett

Obituary: David Curtis. David Peasgood leads the funeral procession towards Saffron Walden Fire Station, Essex

David Curtis' funeral procession made it way towards Saffron Walden Fire Station then on to St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden - Credit: Celia Bartlett

Obituary: David Curtis. Tributes in flowers next to the firefighting vintage table ladder, St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden

Tribute flowers sit alongside the vintage table ladder which carried the coffin of David Curtis to St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden - Credit: Celia Bartlett