A firefighter who "lived and breathed for the fire service" was not wearing a seatbelt when he died while responding to an emergency call.

Mark Hillier, 47, died when his Suzuki Grand Vitara collided with a BMW on the A345 in Pewsey on Thursday, October 12, 2023 at around 6.45pm.

An inquest on Thursday, July 4, 2024, heard the watch manager, father of three, and firefighter since 1995 had gone to see a friend with his dogs in the evening.

While there he received an emergency alert and headed to Pewsey Fire Station. The station was about a mile and a half away and a five-minute drive.

PC Hackford carried out an examination of Mark’s Suzuki. 

He reported: “The driver’s seatbelt showed no marks consistent with having been worn at the moment of significant deceleration, and remained in the stowed position.”

The court also heard a report from Lee Mayhew, a Serious Collisions Investigations Team lead investigator.

Mayhew reported: “I think it fair to assume that he was driving in a manner to make progress and arrive at the station in a timely fashion.

“The rear near side tyre was underinflated and was likely to have been set for some time. This defective deflated tyre would have likely caused the vehicle to lose stability.”

“There is no suggestion of mobile phone use.

“It is likely that Mr Hillier would have survived the incident had he been wearing a seatbelt.”

The coroner, Ian Singleton, concluded that Mark lost control of his car due to an underinflated tyre. 

He collided with another vehicle and suffered severe head injuries. He was confirmed deceased at 7.47pm.

Mark had been at his friend Liam Smart’s house, where he went every night with his dogs, Teddy, Coco and Joey. All three passed away in the accident.

A statement from a friend, Liam Smart, read: “I've known Mark since I was a child. Mark led my way into the fire service. 

“I would see him every day over the past five years. I would normally get between five and twenty calls a day from him just general chatting.”

On the day of the accident, Mark had been working all day on the Safe Drive Stay Alive campaign at a school.

He continued: “When I saw him he was his usual happy self. Mark was in a good place in his life loving his job. His kids were doing well and he and Holly were happy.”

Liam said that while Mark was a very capable driver, he would sometimes not wear a seatbelt for shorter journeys.

Holly Hillier, Mark’s wife, spoke to Mark on the phone because he had left his emergency pager at home, and it was going off. 

Holly said: “I know when he was called out he would have tunnel vision as all he would have been thinking about was getting to the station as fast as he could as someone needed his help.”

“Mark lived and breathed for the fire service. It was a calling he embraced with his whole heart. 

“Mark died responding to a fire call that evening of properly only handful he didn't turn out for.”

The family previously vowed to celebrate and cherish Mark’s memory.

They said: “We will be forever proud of you, as we knew you were of us. Your bravery, selflessness and countless lives saved will be remembered always.

“You will be forever celebrated and cherished. Mark, Dad, we love you wholeheartedly with everything we have. We miss you immensely. Until we meet again. Love you forever and always.”

Mark was born on May 23, 1976 and is survived by his wife, Holly, and three children, Jaimee, Hayden, and Isla.