A man who escaped a house fire with his wife and six children has pledged his support for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service's Get Out Stay Out campaign.
"Emergency services arrived very quickly and firefighters saved our dogs from the house. I'd considered trying to go in to get them but the doors were locked so I couldn’t, I now realise if I had done this I would have collapsed from the smoke and may not be here today. I was given oxygen and we all went to hospital to be checked over, thankfully the children were okay, the older ones were just in shock."
The campaign aims to remind the community of the dangers of tackling a fire yourself, attempting to gather belongings or re-entering a building during a blaze, and highlights the importance of leaving the property as soon as possible and waiting for the fire crews to arrive.
Paul, whose name has been changed to protect his identify, said he and his family were lucky to get out when his home caught fire on Monday February 12. Firefighters were called to a home in Rolleston-on-Dove at 2.10am after Paul and his wife were woken by their smoke alarms.
After realising the lounge was ablaze, with smoke spreading rapidly up the stairs blocking their escape route, Paul and his wife quickly gathered the family in a back bedroom where he knew they could escape out of the window onto the conservatory roof.
He crawled along the floor to get his two-year-old son who was still asleep in his cot while his wife began helping the other children out of the window.
Talking about the night of the fire Paul said: "I think my training from my Navy days kicked in as I remembered I needed to stay low to the ground where the smoke was thinner. As I passed my son out the window to my wife I began to feel like I couldn't breathe as by this point the smoke was very thick, so I fell out of the window and landed with such force I went through the conservatory roof.
"If it wasn't for the smoke alarms we probably would have never woken up, they saved our lives. The fire took hold so quickly that those few minutes from the alarms going off were vital and gave us just enough time to get out. At first I thought the alarm sounding was my alarm clock on my phone, so luckily I had my phone in my hand to ring 999 as soon as I realised the house was on fire.
"Emergency services arrived very quickly and firefighters saved our dogs from the house. I'd considered trying to go in to get them but the doors were locked so I couldn’t, I now realise if I had done this I would have collapsed from the smoke and may not be here today. I was given oxygen and we all went to hospital to be checked over, thankfully the children were okay, the older ones were just in shock.
"The oxygen masks the firefighters used on the dogs were fantastic and made such a difference to them. Sadly, one of our dogs had underlying health issues and he wasn't in a good way after the fire so we had to let him go. The house is going to take months to sort out, the lounge was destroyed and everywhere was badly smoke damaged but we are all okay and that is the main thing.
"I think the Get Out Stay Out campaign is a very good idea as it informs people and raises awareness that you shouldn't tackle a fire yourself, the best thing to do is get out and leave it to firefighters who are well equipped to deal with it safely."
A fire investigation found the fire started accidentally due to a faulty television which was left on standby in the lounge.