Firefighters support for a neighbouring family receives Chief Fire Officer’s Commendations

Tyne and Wear Firefighters Gene (Clinton) Browne and his son, Curtis have both been awarded Chief Fire Officer’s Commendations for outstanding contribution above and beyond the call of duty to their community.

Gene who has recently retired from the White Watch at Gosforth Community Fire Station after 11 years and his son Curtis, from Gosforth’s Blue Watch, received their commendation (presented by Assistant Chief Fire Officer, John Baines) following a letter from Gateshead Councillor, Julie Simpson and her brother John Simpson.

Gene and Curtis, as well as Gene’s wife Fiona, helped Julie and John’s father at the end of his life in December 2018. As a close neighbour, Gene discovered Julie and John’s father – Alan Simpson – in his garden looking very unwell and sought immediate medical treatment for him, but sadly he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Gene then endeavoured to make Mr Alan Simpson’s final weeks as comfortable and as worry-free as possible, by providing him with pyjamas and slippers, paying his utility bills and supporting him through some very difficult hours.

Firefighters Gene and Curtis Browne with Gene's wife Fiona and ACO John Baines, with their Chief Fire Officer's Commendation and Gene's 30 years long service certificate, following his retirement.

What’s more he helped fulfil his last wish – to be reunited with his daughter and son. Whilst he’d had some minimal contact with Julie through a few letters, he hadn’t seen his son for 43 years. Curtis was able to search for Julie online, enabling the hospital to get in touch with the family. Both John and Julie managed to speak to their dad just hours before he died.

Councillor Julie Simpson commented:

“It goes without saying that Gene is a credit to the fire service. His kindness, generosity and exceptional intentions make him a respectable and honourable officer. His willingness and honesty to help others at a time of need and selfless determination and attitude is and remains truly remarkable.

I and my brother are totally indebted to Gene and his family for providing us with opportunity to say our last few words to our dad before he died. If Gene hadn’t helped to make this happen, I know that we would have lived to regret not being able to say our final goodbyes to him.”

Along with Gene, his son Curtis also supported Mr Alan Simpson’s last wishes and read the eulogy at the thanksgiving for his life. His exceptional support for the family also received a much deserved commendation.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, John Baines commented:

“Our firefighters are trained to protect our communities. From preventing incidents through safety visits in homes and businesses through to responding to all levels of emergencies, using their professionalism and expertise to protect and save lives; every day, they do that.

But what Gene, Curtis and Fiona did in supporting the Simpson family at such a difficult time, is incredibly humbling for anyone of us to hear. Gene and Curtis demonstrated exemplary leadership behaviours, those which are displayed through our firefighters. I cannot commend them enough for the remarkable support they gave to the family. Our community should be very proud that we have firefighters and families like the Browne’s, whose care and compassion for others is a meaningful and positive example to us all.”

As well as the Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation, Gene was also presented with his 30 year long service certificate on the occasion of his retirement.