John McGrath 1954 – 2009

Published:  04 December, 2009

It is with deep sadness that we announce the sudden death of John McGrath, PPE & Stores Manager, Northern Ireland FRS, who died on Wednesday 11th November 2009.

John joined NIFRS in 1988 progressing to the role of Stores Manager a short time later.

However, it was his work in the development of personal protection equipment and firefighter safety that John was best known in UK Fire & Rescue Service circles and beyond.

John cared passionately about the safety of firefighters, not only in NIFRS but across the UK.

Over the years he worked tirelessly to develop his knowledge and expertise in firefighter safety to such a degree that he was much sought after on national committees including the UK government's FireBuy Integrated Clothing Project. John was also recently invited to become a member of the influential British Standards Institute.

John was a familiar figure at national and international safety conferences and exhibitions where his opinions were regularly sought.

John was very well respected by his colleagues in NIFRS, and indeed other UK Fire & Rescue Services, and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this time.

Kevan Whitehead:

"John McGrath – my personal friend, professional colleague and self proclaimed protector of firefighters, you will be missed, but your work will live on.

"The news of your untimely death devastated me and so many other people who knew you.
We worked closely within the North West Fire Services on many projects, bouncing ideas and theories off each other, arguing about methods and occasionally standing shoulder to shoulder when challenged. We subsequently worked together on the National Integrated Clothing Project (ICP) John bringing expertise, knowledge, loyalty and humour to the exercise.

"When I subsequently retired from the Service and began working with PPE from a supplier perspective as opposed to an end user, John was still there with advice, support and friendship…and the occasional glass of sweet wine!

"John undoubtedly advanced the science of firefighting PPE both within the UK and further afield, I have no hesitation in stating that John's passion for PPE is, and will continue to, save firefighters from injury and death."

Kevan Whitehead, Senior Technical Officer (Ret’d) Gtr Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, Technical Advisor ICP, Safety Advisor Emergency Response TenCate Protective Fabrics

Ian Callaghan:

"I knew John for around 12 years and in that time I really got to know him as a work associate and, most importantly, as a friend. He was a major influence in the fire industry and well-respected by everyone he met.

"John was a superb ambassador for Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and one the Brigade could be proud of. His experience and character will be greatly missed in the Fire Service  and by everyone who knew him. The good and decent person that John was is how he will be remembered.

"We have lost a loveable, knowledgeable,  hardworking character who had bags of fun and I have lost a best friend. All our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Ian Callaghan , Marketing & Sales PBI Europe

To add your thoughts, please email

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

Spectrex Inc. – Optical Flame and Open Path Gas Detectors

Spectrex Inc. is a world leader in optical flame and combustible gas detection, with over 30 years experience in providing solution for the protection of high-risk onshore and offshore oil & gas, chemical and petrochemical sites, including protection of storage tanks, filling operations, aircraft hangars, atria and many other areas where hydrocarbons fires are a concern.

argus: experts in thermal imaging

argus® are a division of e2v Technologies Ltd. Since the 1940’s e2v have developed imaging solutions for use in some of the World’s most exciting ventures, from monitoring environmental changes on Earth to helping NASA’s Curiosity Rover detect the elements, which could support life on Mars.

DuPont™ Nomex®; Proven heat stress protection for firefighters

DuPont is the inventor and the world’s largest producer of high-performance materials and solutions with leading world brands such as DuPont™ Nomex®, Kevlar®, Teflon® and Tyvek®, providing personal protection, be it thermal, mechanical or chemical, to over 90 countries.

Solberg – the new standard in firefighting foam

Solberg is the one-stop resource for firefighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware. With our unique offering of environmentally sustainable fluorosurfactant and fluoropolymer-free foam concentrates, and traditional firefighting foam concentrates, Solberg leads the industry in firefighting foam innovation.

Holmatro - Mastering Power

Holmatro Rescue Equipment develops, manufactures, sells and services high-pressure hydraulic, pneumatic and mechanical rescue equipment. With a comprehensive dealer network on all continents, manufacturing plants in the Netherlands (head office) and USA, and sales offices in China and UK, we supply our products and services to fire and rescue organizations all over the world.

Dr Sthamer - Hamburg: foam fights fire

Dr Sthamer – Hamburg, has been developing and manufacturing state-of-the art firefighting foams since the 1920’s. Having been founded in 1886 by Dr Richard Sthamer, we are still proudly owned and managed by the Sthamer family. Our base is still at the original site where we started in, on the banks of the Bille River in Hamburg Germany.

Suppliers Database

Search either by product or company name:




IFP Chinese NFPA NFPA First Class Firefighter Resource