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Tribute to Suffolk firefighter Tony Bickers who was killed by a train at Mellis level crossing

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:12 13 December 2016

Former Suffolk firefighter Tony Bickers, sitting in the front row third from left.

Former Suffolk firefighter Tony Bickers, sitting in the front row third from left.

Archant

A retired Suffolk firefighter who was killed on the railway line this month has been described by colleagues as an "outstanding officer" and a "good comrade".

Tony Bickers is understood to have died when he was hit by a train at the level crossing at Mellis, near Eye, on December 1, at around 6.30am.

The 53-year-old, from Worlingworth, served in Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service for around 30 years, retiring as a crew commander in 2013.

Starting his career as an on-call firefighter at Framlingham, Mr Bickers later went on to take a full-time role at Princes Street station in Ipswich, where he worked for around 25 years.

The father-of-one was a member of the county’s Fire Brigade Union (FBU) for the entirety of his career, and was also a mechanic on the side.

Roy Humphreys, secretary of Suffolk’s FBU, said: “He was an excellent firefighter, an excellent union member and a bloody good comrade and one we are going to miss dearly.

“I can’t sing his praises enough, it’s hard to put into words.

“He was so knowledgeable, he was practical and he was a people-person, too.”

He added: “He was a leader, not only in the fire service but as a FBU official.

“He led by example, nothing was too much trouble for him, he would always help anyone out.

“Many, many people in Suffolk fire service benefitted from Tony’s professionalism, his friendship and his comradeship.

“Senior officers in the service who served with Tony say he’s one of the best firefighters they ever worked with.”

Mr Bickers originally trained as a mechanic, and Mr Humphreys said he would often service cars for staff from the fire brigade.

“If you had a problem with your car then everyone went to Tony,” he added.

“That was the type of chap he was.”

Mr Bickers lived with his parents in Worlingworth and he leaves behind a 23-year-old son, Robert.

Suffolk’s chief fire officer Mark Hardingham said: “Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service extend their condolences to Tony’s family at this very sad time.

“Tony was an outstanding firefighter and officer who served in Suffolk for many years until his recent retirement.”

An inquest into Mr Bicker’s death will take place in due course.

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