A MEMORIAL has been unveiled to a Keighley firefighter who died after battling to save young children from a blazing house.

Jeff Naylor died in hospital ten weeks after being badly injured as he and colleagues fought to rescue the five trapped youngsters from a property in Broomhill Walk, Keighley.

Two of the youngsters lost their lives in the blaze, but the other three were saved.

Thirty-six years on from the tragedy, Mr Naylor – who was 31 – has been honoured with a plaque at the Malsis Road entrance to Lund Park, which is close to the scene of the fire.

Around 80 people – including brigade and union personnel, members of Mr Naylor's family, dignitaries and ordinary members of the public – attended a moving dedication ceremony this morning.

The red plaque was funded through a lottery project launched last year by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), to mark its centenary.

FBU West Yorkshire chairman and Bradford divisional secretary, Dave Gillian, welcomed everyone to the dedication and thanked all those who had supported the project – including West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Bradford Council.

"Hopefully we have done Jeff proud," he said.

The union's president, Ian Murray, said the day Mr Naylor died – July 10, 1983 – would remain etched in people's minds. He was the last West Yorkshire firefighter to die on active duty.

"It's important that we continue to remember the day and continue to learn lessons from Jeff's death," he said.

"Jeff was a hero in every sense of the word. He died doing what all firefighters join the service for – to help save lives. He paid the ultimate price.

"When a firefighter is killed in the line of duty the devastation is felt by the community, but usually there's nothing physical in the community where the tragedy occurred to remember that person. Through this plaque, there is a permanent memorial locally to his sacrifice."

Fire service area manager, Nick Smith, said he was honoured to be at the ceremony.

He added: "Jeff made the ultimate sacrifice as he rescued young children from a house fire not far from here and this plaque is a fitting tribute.

"Thanks to Jeff's bravery, three young children lived.

"We must do our utmost to ensure such a tragedy doesn't happen again.

"We've learned lessons and firefighters are now better trained and equipped than ever before and fire safety in the home has improved. It's owing to Jeff and others who have given their lives that many more lives have been saved."

Mr Naylor's son, Mark, who helped unveil the plaque, said the family was deeply grateful for the tribute and he praised the role firefighters perform.

Mark, now 45, was just ten when his dad died.

"Many years ago our dad was taken from us but we know his memory will never fade," he said.

"We're very proud of him and we thank the fire service and the union for the support they have given us over the years.

"Every day, firefighters help protect all of us. They turn up at incidents not knowing what dangers they are going to face. Every firefighter should take great pride in what they do."