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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Commendation Award For Off Duty Firefighter

06/01/2015

An off-duty firefighter will be rewarded with a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation for his brave actions at a house fire.

"Richard showed immense bravery in rescuing the couple from the burning building and fully deserves the Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation, which is awarded to those who have put their own life at risk to assist others.

Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive Peter Dartford.

The blaze broke out at a property on Moston Street in Birches Head on November 7 whilst the occupants were sleeping.

Richard Simpson, a window cleaner and a retained firefighter at Hanley Community Fire Station, spotted the fire from his home, opposite.

He immediately reached for a ladder from the top of his van and put it to the first floor window to rescue the occupants from the burning building.

Firefighters from Hanley and Sandyford then arrived at the incident and tackled the severe fire wearing breathing apparatus using two hose reel jets.

Both casualties received Oxygen therapy for smoke inhalation and attended hospital for precautionary checks.

The fire was caused by an E-cigarette battery that had been attached directly to the mains charging plug and left to charge overnight. It overheated and caught fire due to a fault with the battery.

Firefighter Richard Simpson said: “It’s an absolute honour to be presented with this award, although the irony is that I was actually providing retained fire cover that night anyway, so had I not spotted the fire I would have actually turned up shortly after with my colleagues on the fire engine.

“It was a very severe fire and I’m just pleased that I was able to assist the couple as I’m conscious the outcome could have been very different.”

Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford commented:  “Richard showed immense bravery in rescuing the couple from the burning building and fully deserves the Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation, which is awarded to those who have put their own life at risk to assist others.

“The residents involved were extremely lucky to be rescued when they were as it was just a series of co-incidences that meant Richard spotted the fire when he did, had access to a ladder and the necessary firefighting skills to make an effective rescue. Other people in the future might not be as lucky and this incident acts as a stark reminder about the importance of having working smoke alarms. Smoke detectors are vital for an early warning as not everyone will have a window cleaning, retained firefighter like Richard living across the road from them!”