Sub Officer Hector Percy Scott of Newport Fire Brigade, the National Fire Service and the Isle of Wight County Fire Brigade passed away 16 February 1965 aged 53.
Hector, born on 22 August 1911, of 31 Chapel Street, was one of three sons of former Newport Chief Officer Sydney Percy Scott. Hector joined the brigade in 1930 and served under his father until the latter's retirement in 1939 after more than 30 years service. Working for his fathers and uncles firm, H.Scott and Sons, Hector apprenticed in the building trade, but, according to his daughter, his calling was always the fire service.
Hector was a volunteer within the borough brigade from 1930 rising to the position of Senior Station Officer by early 1941. When, in August 1941, the National Fire Service was launched, Hector who was only 29 at the time, perfectly fitted the N.F.S. preference for younger officers and he was appointed as Newport Company Officer, an N.F.S. equivalent rank to that of his father when he was Chief Officer.
Before the end of the year the appointed Column Officer of N.F.S. Division 14d, Thomas Upward, had made such a poor job that Regional Headquarters removed him from the Island, reduced his rank and placed him in Portsmouth. Hector was hurriedly appointed as Acting Column Officer, at 30 years of age this made him one of the youngest Column Officers in the nationalised service.
He remained in that position, achieving results that satisfied Regional HQ for several months. As fate would have it he was the Island's senior fireman in charge on the night of 4/5 May 1942, the infamous Cowes Blitz, when by the middle of the night, directing operations from Divisional Headquarters at The Grange, Staplers Road, he had the Island's entire fire force in operation on either side of the Medina. The scale of the operation is unimaginable and the stress he must have been under incalculable, particularly as he had no reserves to call upon and assistance from the mainland didn't arrive until many hours after the attack ended.
In the aftermath Regional HQ decided that the Island required the closer attention of a higher authority and a Divisional Officer was posted, but Hector retained his Column Officer status and served throughout the war.
By 1944, with the threat to the home front receding, many part-time and full-time firemen were laid off, but there was little fear of Hector losing the position he had fulfilled with such aplomb.
However when the N.F.S. was disbanded and the Isle of Wight County Fire Brigade formed in 1948, he featured in the plans of newly appointed Chief Fire Officer Sullivan as a Newport Fire Station Sub Officer in charge of Blue Watch, where, according to his daughter, he was a stickler for the rules, requiring everything to be done to a high standard for which he gained the respect of both his watch and his superiors.
However, having previously commanded the Island's massed fire services during its most severe of tests, appointment to Sub Officer may have been a disappointment to Hector and in the opinion of some he was repeatedly overlooked for future promotion as he was very much his own man.
With his wife, who he married in 1946, a former telephone operator at Newport Fire Station, he was also proprietor of a Chapel Street general store and licensed premises known as The Magnet. His daughter recalled - He was a quiet, calm, and above all, modest man, with a great sense of humour. I never saw him flustered or angry. He was always the family man, happiest when at home with my mother, my sister and me.
On 15 November 1957 Hector was among the men that attended the horrific Aquila Airways air crash on Chessell Down that caused 45 fatalities and numerous other serious injuries. He was shaken by the tragedy, particularly the deaths of the young people and children and it was shortly after this event that he suffered a heart attack. He recovered and remained in the service and wasn't to suffer a second heart attack until January 1965, followed by another that ended his life a month later.
Hector passed away at the County Hospital, Ryde at the far too young age of 53.
Rest in peace Column Officer/Sub Officer Scott.