skip to content

Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Chief Fire Officer commends store's action

Quick-thinking colleagues who evacuated more than 700 people from a supermarket when they saw smoke in the lobby, are to be commended by Staffordshire’s Chief Fire Officer.

"The calm manner in which they executed the evacuation is to be commended. In the event of a fire, these actions could literally save lives."

Peter Dartford, Chief Fire Officer.

Staff at Sainsbury’s in Biddulph acted quickly and effectively when they saw smoke billowing out of the shop’s entrance on May 31.

Store manager Duncan Thomson raised the alarm at 12.55pm and he and his team managed to safely evacuate all of the shoppers within two minutes.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service was alerted to the situation and crews from Biddulph and Sandyford attended. A smoke bomb was found to be the source of the incident.

Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford will present Mr Thomson and his team with a certificate of commendation during an informal ceremony at Biddulph Community Fire Station on Wednesday, September 24.

Mr Dartford said: “Taking efficient and effective action in an emergency is absolutely vital and that is exactly what Mr Thomson and his colleagues did when they saw smoke in the supermarket. This incident just goes to show how important it is for people to be fully aware of the escape route, whether at home or at work, should they need to evacuate a building. 

“Neither Mr Thomson, nor his colleagues or customers knew that a smoke bomb was the cause of this incident, as far as they were aware it was caused by a fire, so the calm manner in which they executed the evacuation is to be commended. In the event of a fire, these actions could literally save lives.”

Mr Thomson added: “Fire safety training is part of every colleague’s induction and we regularly receive retraining. Our colleagues and customers’ safety is of the highest priority in situations like this. On the day, my team reacted brilliantly and the training really paid off. To be recognised by the fire department is a great achievement for me and my colleagues and shows the importance of the training Sainsbury’s provides to all members of staff.”

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service offers a range of support that businesses can benefit from. For more information, visit http://www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/627.asp, or call 01785 898656.