Derbyshire’s top firefighter has hailed five Shirebrook students as heroes after commending them for coming to the rescue of an elderly man who was trapped in his burning home.
Terry McDermott, chief fire officer for Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, said the teenagers saved lives while risking their own safety to help the man, who was confined to his bed and unable to move while the fire took hold of his home.
Mr McDermott praised the Year 11 students, Farren Walters, 15, Archie Ashton, 15, Josua Jope, 16, Liam Gladwin 16, and Brandon Butler, 16, when he attended a special assembly at their school, Shirebrook Academy, in Common Lane, to award them commendations.
He told the assembly how they had been walking to Shirebrook train station when they spotted smoke billowing from the roof of a bungalow in Rockley Way on January 26.
While they were standing outside the front door, they heard cries for help coming from the garden and they jumped over the fence.
There they found a couple struggling to wheel the man, who was confined to a hospital-style bed, out of the back door and so they entered the building and helped to lift the bed out and to safety.
The couple in question, Derbyshire police officers Sergeant Nicola Clark and PC Tim Clark, who were both off-duty at the time, also received commendations.
Mr McDermott said: “It has been a privilege to honour the bravery of several outstanding young people and two off-duty police officers who came to the rescue of a vulnerable gentleman and his wife when a fire broke out in their home.
“In the event of a fire the most important advice we give to people is to get out and stay out, but on this occasion, one of the occupants of the bungalow was extremely vulnerable as he was confined to bed and unable to do this. This would have been a very distressing experience for the gentleman and his wife, but thanks to the quick thinking, bravery and strength of the off duty police officers and the young people, everyone was able to get out to safety before the arrival of fire crews.
“This is an excellent example of our communities looking out for each other and coming together in a time of crisis.”
Describing the rescue, Archie, said that even though they weren’t the only ones at the scene, none of them had any hesitation about getting involved.
He said: “It was very hot and dangerous inside, and you could hear the fire in the roof and there was smoke everywhere, but we all wanted to help the couple, so we didn’t think about our own safety.
“I feel proud of what we’ve done, it’s good to be told that we’ve helped the community.”
Firefighters from Shirebrook extinguished the blaze, which had started in a tumble dryer and spread to the bungalow’s roof space.
Sergeant Clark added: “There was no way that Tim and I would have been able to lift the bed on our own, so we couldn’t have got the man out of the house without the lads.
“You could hear the fire in the roof space and it was a dangerous situation for everyone involved, so they thoroughly deserve their recognition.”
Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service would like to remind everyone of the importance of having a smoke alarm fitted on every level of the home.
Smoke alarms should be tested on a weekly basis to ensure they are ready to give valuable early warning of a fire allowing occupants to get out, stay out and call 999.
Shirebrook Academy is based in Common Lane, Shirebrook. It has 840 students and was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted in 2013, with staff and pupils alike praised by inspectors, who also singled out the considerable care the school gives to individual students as one of the Academy’s particular strengths.
In May 2017 Shirebrook Academy joined Aston Community Education Trust (ACET), benefitting from the efficiencies to be gained from high quality centralised services and the challenge and support of ACET’s School Improvement Team.
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