Exceptional year for heroic rescues

LORNA MARSH Bravery in the toughest of circumstances was given hard-won recognition last night as fire fighters and members of the public were honoured in an “exceptional year” for the Norfolk's service at its annual awards.

LORNA MARSH

Bravery in the toughest of circumstances was given hard-won recognition last night as fire fighters and members of the public were honoured in an “exceptional year” for the Norfolk's service at its annual awards.

The commendations were given an added poignancy coming just days after four firefighters were killed in a suspicious warehouse blaze in Atherstone-on-Stour, near Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service awards evening saw chief fire officer's commendations going out to, among others, Stalham and Martham crews for their bravery in rescuing a boy and woman from an intense house fire in Ingham, White Watch at Yarmouth for a difficult rescue from a first-floor bedroom fire, a police officer and two members of the public for their bravery at the scene of a road traffic collision on the A47 at Necton and two firefighters from Norwich and Sprowston for their bravery and quick thinking during a rescue from the River Wensum.

For the latter two incidents the crews involved will also receive a letter of commendation in recognition of their actions.

Medals were bestowed for long service and good conduct and awards handed out for community partnership and cadet of the year.

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A spokesman for the service said: “This is an exceptional year. Never before have we had so many certificates and letters of commendation, although this should not detract from the unique act of courage or merit that each one of these commendations recognises.”

Richard Rockcliffe, cabinet member for fire and community protection, said: “The annual awards evening is a chance for the efforts of a wide range of people to receive some official recognition.

“All the recipients have in some way contributed to making Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service what it is; a service of which we can all be rightly proud.”

Richard Elliott, chief fire officer for Norfolk, said: “Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service staff consistently attain high standards and this is our chance to celebrate just a few of the more notable examp-les of that continued excellence.

“The annual awards evening is our chance as an organisation to celebrate the dedication and commitment of a few of our people and officially say thank you.”

The evening took place at the John Innes Centre in Colney.

CHIEF FIRE OFFICER'S COMMENDATIONS

t Derek Stringfellow (Norfolk Constabulary control room support)

t Carl Mills (member of the public)

t Andrew Simmons (member of the public)

On 25 March 2006 the trio stopped along the A47 at Necton in the early hours of the morning after spotting a blazing car that had collided with some trees leaving the occupants were trapped.

With no regard for their own personal safety they tried to pull both from the wreckage, helping to save the life of one.

t White Watch Great Yarmouth

(Watch Manager Matthew Clutten; Firefighter Michael Howlett; Crew Manager Gary Miller; Firefighter Mark Johnson; Firefighter Paul Ballard; Firefighter Dean Lacey; Firefighter John Barwick; Firefighter Andrew Masterson; Firefighter Scott Granger)

On 17 February 2007, a call was received reporting a young man trapped in a major house fire in Crown Road, Yarmouth.

Katrina Portsmouth, who has received a letter of commendation, took the call and provided invaluable survival advice to the man whilst awaiting the arrival of the crew. Ff John Barwick broke into the first floor window and rescued the man. The occupant only suffered from slight smoke inhalation, and there is no doubt that this was as a direct result of the survival advice given and the actions of the crew.

t Firefighter Antony Bell (Sprowston Red)

t Firefighter Stephen Broom (Norwich Red)

On 30 June 2007 Crews were mobilised to the Westwick Street area of Norwich following reports of a woman in the River Wensum which was high and turbulent at the time. After several minutes trying to rescue her using ladders both firefighters went into the water and assisted her until a boat arrived.

t Stalham: Watch Manager Michael Walton, Crew Manager Geoffrey Lowe, Crew Manager Barry Phillippo, Firefighters Simon Atkin, Susan Blackman, Mark Farley, Steven Gibbs and Russell Phelan

t Martham: Crew Manager Andrew Hart, Crew Manager Mark Johnson, Firefighters Shaun Cramer, Phillip Gough, Mark Shields, and Trevor Studd.

On 16 July 2007 a fire call was received reporting a house fire in Ingham with two people trapped on the first floor. Stalham arrived on the scene first and were faced with a very fierce fire, flames could be seen through the bedroom window and smoke was seen issuing via a first floor landing window. It was quickly confirmed that 2 people were trapped in the rear first floor bathroom.

A breathing apparatus team entered the building whilst, a short extension ladder was put up to the small window. The young 4 year old boy was rescued via the window. Due to the size of the window the adult occupant could not be rescued in this way. By this time Martham crew had arrived and donned breathing apparatus and also entered the building. The heat levels were so high that they had to crawl along the floor to gain access to the bathroom. The crews then worked together to coordinate the rescue via the landing area.

All members of the Breathing Apparatus team sustained damage to their PPE as a result of working in a confined space containing very high temperature which were sufficient to melt visors and other helmet components, but this did not hinder their efforts and the level of protection provided by their fire kit enabled them to work in relative safety, in a very hostile environment.

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