Trade unionist; Born September 25, 1922; Died July 1, 2009.

Enoch Humphries, who has died aged 86, was a former president of both the Fire Brigades Union and the Scottish Trade Union Congress and his life was a fantastic example of what it means to be a trade unionist and socialist.

Born in Rutherglen, he attended St David's primary in the Townhead area of Glasgow and then Townhead secondary.

He left school at 14 and worked in several jobs before lying about his age (17) and entering his war service in the RAF in 1939. He never stopped fighting for the rights of his fellow comrades and encouraging others to fight along. He was a true internationalist and was instrumental in shaping the direction of the Scottish trade union movement that still to this day recognises that freedoms and rights matter regardless, and that only by a close association and a better understanding can we move to a world of peace.

Like many trade unionists of his time he joined the Communist Party, and like many he left following the invasion by the Soviets of Hungary in 1956. He was always emphatic that he never adopted an anti-communist position, or found any political hostility against those who remained in the party.

The fire service that Humphries joined over half a century ago has changed dramatically, and the roots of some of the more progressive changes can be seen in the campaigns led by him in the 1960s and 1970s.

One example was the spit and polish' campaign to end the practice of firefighters cleaning equipment unnecessary (mainly brass fittings), cleaning toilets and windows, and for them instead to do meaningful work such as fire prevention, inspections and training in return for a living wage.

When the troubles started in Northern Ireland and it was suggested that fire stations be fortified with sandbags just like the police stations, Humphries insisted: "We refused under any circumstances to have fire stations protected. We said that we must have an open door so that any person can come in and seek assistance and we will respond to that request for help. We serve all communities." In some way that attitude sums him up: anyone could seek assistance and he would do his utmost to help in whatever way he could without prejudice.

The Scottish Trade Union General Council first had the pleasure of Humphries in 1963, a relationship that continued until the day he died. He was the president of the STUC in 1968 and only retired from the General Council when his age forced his retirement from the fire service on the September 22, 1977.

His continued involvement with trade union issues since his retirement from an employed wage ultimately led to his role with the Scottish Pensioners' Forum and other campaigns for the rights of the elderly.

Humphries always had strong views about the role of firefighters in society, and that is why he insisted that our work was evaluated in the same way as other public servants. He was the president when the Cunningham report was published in the early 1970s that gave a maximum working week of 56 hours and an examination that led to becoming a qualified firefighter.

The same issues are still at the forefront and it saddened Enoch to see the service take national strike action for only its second time (in 2002-3) asking for a living wage and recognition for the work.

Ken Cameron, former general secretary of the FBU, said: "His work since his retirement on behalf of the pensioners in Scotland is a matter for record. Enoch worked tirelessly for others right to the end, even to the point of leaving his remains to medical research at Glasgow University."

It is the mark of the man that on the July 1, 2009, on the day Enoch died, all of Strathclyde's fire stations and property were flying their flags at half mast, 32 years after he retired from the service. He truly was a remarkable comrade.

He died peacefully with his family close and is survived by his wife Margaret, son Alan, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Sadly his daughter Carol died a number of years ago.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, July 8, at Cambuslang Institute, Greenlees Road, Cambuslang at noon. By Roddy Robertson