Hero firefighter tells of 'nick of time' flood rescue

Chris Harding-Hook, red watch manager at Sprowston fire station.

Chris Harding-Hook, red watch manager at Sprowston fire station. - Credit: Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

A hero firefighter involved in the dramatic rescue of an elderly man and woman from a submerged car said his team arrived in the nick of time.

Chris Harding-Hook, was first into the flood water under a railway bridge on Green Lane, between Thorpe End and Great Plumstead, to rescue the trapped occupants on Christmas Eve.

Wading into the emergency, without any specialist gear on, he ended up with his head just above the flood water, which had reached the top of the car window.

He smashed the passenger car window and pulled out a woman before two of his Sprowston firefighter colleagues pulled out a man from the back of the Honda car.

Mr Harding-Hook, 52, who is red watch manager at the Sprowston station, said: "We got to the people in the absolute nick of time.

"The outcome could have been completely different. When we arrived just after 10am I knew the water rescue team was en route This was a life-threatening situation. In my mind I knew the people in the car were in desperate trouble.

"As firefighters, we are trained to risk our lives to save others. The greater the benefit to a rescue the greater the risk we will take. Any firefighter would have done the same thing." 

A firefighter wades through armpit deep water to a submerged car under the rail bridge at Green Lane

A firefighter wades through armpit deep water to a submerged car under the rail bridge at Green Lane, Thorpe End, only to find an elderly couple trapped. Picture: Alex and Matt Emmerson - Credit: Alex and Matt Emmerson

He added the man and woman, who were not a couple, were taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to be checked over but had since returned home.

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"I believe they are both well," Mr Harding-Hook said.

The firefighter has been in the frontline service for 26 years, including three years' experience within the Norfolk Fire Service water rescue team based at Carrow.

He advised people to not travel in extreme weather, not to go into flood water and call 999 if they got into trouble or saw an emergency.

The day before the rescue, a mother-of-two and her children were rescued from her car after it got stuck in the same spot.

Since both incidents, Green Lane has been temporarily closed for monitoring following a Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service investigation.

A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: "We are working to swiftly identify longer term solutions to help alleviate the flooding problem at this location.”

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