A FORMER chief fire officer for Lancashire has died, aged 89.

John, known as Jack, Warden, died six months after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. He was the county’s top fireman for 10 years before his retirement in 1983.

Mr Warden, who spent his final years in Kent, leaves behind three children, Michael, Peter and Linda, sisters Joan Clarke and Ann Brown and six grandchildren.

Daughter Linda Wilson, who lives with her husband Steve in Phoenix, Arizona, in the US, said: “He was a strict father and had a very acute mind.

“He was totally self made and self educated and always strived to better himself. But he also had a wonderful sense of humour and was a great joke-teller.”

Mrs Wilson said in a self-written eulogy, penned in his final weeks, her dad had requested ‘Blaze Away’ by Joseph Locke be played at his funeral in Kent on Tuesday, so he can ‘go out with a bang, not a whimper’.

Mr Warden lived with his family in Duckworth Street, Darwen, and was educated at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic School.

He spent some time working with his father as a painter and decorater, but joined the Royal Navy in 1942 to fight in the Second World War. As a gunner, he was part of coastal forces intercepting German convoys, and was awarded a British Empire Medal for his involvement in the invasion of Sicily in 1943.

While on leave, Mr Warden met Joyce, from Bristol, where they married in 1945.

He joined the National Fire Service the following year, then returned to Lancashire in 1948. From 1953 he worked around the country, coming home to the top job in 1973.

Mrs Warden died six years ago.