TRIBUTES have been paid to a firefighter who died from cancer.

Adrian Johnson, known affectionately as AJ, has died at the age of 58 on Wednesday.

AJ worked at Eastleigh Fire Station as part of the white watch, and was formerly an on-call firefighter in Ringwood.

Those who knew him best have paid tribute to his loving nature and dedication to firefighting.

Group manager Greg Garrett said: "AJ was our friend and colleague and was very proud to serve as a firefighter for so many years.

"He was such a lovely guy, who would help anybody. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic he assisted our health colleagues with ambulance driving.

"AJ was a talented musician, playing alongside colleagues for 12 years in a band called Snatch Rescue."

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For Snatch Rescue, AJ could be found playing the bass guitar.

AJ joined Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service back in 1997, and has served at fire stations in Cosham, St Mary’s and Ringwood – where he lived in Ringwood with his family.

He also worked as part of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight’s Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR), a specialist team trained to deal with the most extreme emergency incidents.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight’s USAR team is also a key component of the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue Team, which has provided assistance after earthquakes in Haiti and tsunamis in Japan.

The fire service’s chief fire officer, Neil Odin, has also paid tribute to AJ.

He said: "AJ was a dedicated firefighter and a much-loved friend and colleague to so many people across our service.

"He was very involved with our fire cadets programme at Ringwood and gave up a lot of his time to the young people he helped there.

"AJ will be sadly missed by us all and our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this incredibly sad time.’

Eastleigh Fire Station first broke the news of AJ’s death on Thursday afternoon.

The crew posted a tweet online, which said: "We are sad to announce that one of our own lost their fight with cancer last night.

"Adrian Johnson has been a part of the brigade and the station for many years. He always had a smile and was never too busy to help anyone.

"RIP brother, gone but never forgotten."