Francis1Firefighters from London and Merseyside paid tribute to the only serving UK firefighter to lose his life at the Hillsborough disaster on what would have been his 55th birthday.

Francis McAllister was serving London firefighter when he and 95 other football fans lost their lives at an FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

A bench was unveiled in Canbury Gardens in Kingston near a Francis' brother's home in a formal ceremony involving past and present crews and family members.

London Fire Brigade Director of Operations Dave Brown said: "London Firefighter Francis McAllister went to a football match like millions of people do and sadly never came home.

"He served with the Brigade for four years and his service record states that he was a very good firefighter.

"It was a privilege for our crews past and present to meet with Francis' family and lay the Brigade’s ceremonial standard at the unveiling of his bench."

Steve Prately, Watch Manager at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, raised money to buy the bench by taking part in the Liverpool Spring 10k and Run For The 96 5k race along with Francis's cousin, Tony McAllister, who is a serving firefighter at Old Swan Community Fire Station in Liverpool.

Steve said: "Firefighter Francis McAllister was a well-loved firefighter, colleague, friend, son and brother who tragically lost his life at one of the worst sporting tragedies of all time.

"We wanted to buy a bench in remembrance of Francis, to commemorate his memory and legacy as a respected firefighter, family member and friend.

"He served operationally in both Merseyside and London and we wanted to place the bench along the river bank in Kingston, a place often visited by his family and close to his brother's home.

"It has been an honour helping raise money to buy a fitting tribute to Francis and help remember his life alongside his family, friends and colleagues."

Mark McAllister, Francis' cousin, said in a statement given at the time of the reopened inquests: "Francis tried a succession of jobs but it was just in the last few years before Hillsborough that he really found his niche in the fire brigade.

"Not only did he become a valued member of the team at Manchester Square fire station in London, but he also made it into the brigade national football team.

"Francis's influence and his friendships spread far and wide. Perhaps they were best summed up at his funeral, for which one of his many friends wrote and performed a song entitled 'The Man Who Was Larger Than Life'.

"Looking back to when we were children, when we were young, our family used to holiday in North Wales, like so many others from Liverpool.

"One night, our mother had a dream that Francis fell into a river and was rescued by a policeman. The next day, Francis fell into a boating lake and only prompt action from our father saved him from drowning.

"Our father died nine years after Hillsborough, always regretting that he had not been on hand to save his son one more time."

On 15 April 1989, overcrowding occurred on the terraces of Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium at the start of an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs.

New inquests have found that the 96 victims were unlawfully killed. Francis was 27 years old at the time of his death.