Commendation for Shropshire firefighters

Firefighters John Bee (left) and Richard Brazier with their commendation from Shropshire's Chief Fire Officer Paul Raymond (centre)

A “ferocious” fire poured out of a front room as Shropshire firefighters ran into a smoke filled home to save the life of a young woman trapped upstairs, revealed Shropshire's Chief Fire Officer who praised them for their extreme bravery.

Firefighter Steve Morris broke open the front door of the Shrewsbury property as colleagues Richard Brazier and John Bee, wearing breathing apparatus, got into the living room where they were faced with blazing furniture, the kitchen well alight and flames engulfing staircase spindles and a banister rail leading to the upstairs where three householders were initially believed to be trapped.

“The speedy and courageous actions of firefighters John Bee and Richard Brazier saved the life of Laura Smith,” said Paul Raymond, who presented them with the Chief Fire Officer’s commendation for their professionalism and praised their White Watch colleagues who supported the rescue.

“It was genuine and dedicated public service which led the two firefighters to risk their lives in saving another,” he said.

Firefighter Paul Fulgoni, who is in charge of the Shrewsbury watch that went to the fire said at the awards presentation: "I took a look at the three storey building and feared the worst. Smoke and fire was coming out of all the windows and the door. All furniture was in flames. They were engulfed in fire. Visibility was nil when John Bee and Richard Brazier went inside.The fire was so serious that it re-ignited after the firefighters had put it out to block their escape route."

The dramatic 3am rescue was part of a professional 24/7 service delivered across the county by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and made possible by firefighters and “the back room team,” said Mr Raymond.

“There was choking black smoke throughout. We were initially told that three people were trapped. Through the front door we saw that most things were on fire. The stair spindles had burned through, the sofa was on fire and a TV was well alight,” said Richard, who revealed it was the most dramatic rescue of his 18 year firefighting career.

Using a hose reel jet, the pair quickly put out the flames in the living room while heading for the burning staircase which they put out as they raced upstairs in the two storey terraced house in Severn Terrace, Smithfield Road.

“Our main priority was to get upstairs. Visibility was very poor and there was choking black smoke throughout. We made haste and got to the landing and we both shouted hello and amazingly Laura replied very calmly: “Hello I’m in here.”

Firefighters praised Laura for her calmness throughout the rescue on July 9.

“She was under the duvet and had opened the window. She grabbed me and I carried her downstairs while John protected us with the hose just as the sofa re-ignited in the front room.”

Once the woman was safe, the firefighters went back into the property along with more colleagues to search the second floor of the property where Laura’s brother was believed to be trapped but he had managed to jump out of a window.

“At Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service we are all proud to be part of One Team – all Putting Shropshire’s Safety First and relying on each other to deliver our Service to the people of Shropshire,” added Mr Raymond.

3rd November, 2010