Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has recognised a member of the public for his bravery at a serious incident.
“Geoffrey put himself at significant risk going into the house to rescue the woman from inside. While this is something we would not encourage people to do, on this occasion it’s clear that without his actions the woman would have suffered far worse smoke inhalation and would have most certainly died."
Geoffrey Handley, 66, from Ball Green, Stoke-on-Trent, was awarded his commendation during a ceremony at Biddulph Community Fire Station last night, Tuesday May 29.
On the afternoon of Friday December 22 a fire started in a house in South Street, Stoke-on-Trent. Mr Handley was in a nearby street when he saw the house on fire so he went to see if he could help. Some other passers-by had stopped to ring 999 but they weren’t sure if anyone was inside.
Mr Handley kicked open the door and heard someone inside calling for help. The other bystanders warned him not to go inside, but after listening and hearing no nearby sirens he made the decision to enter the house in a bid to save them.
Crawling on his hands and knees he went towards the voice and found the occupant, a woman in her 80s, on the floor in the living room. Mr Handley dragged her out of the house to safety, suffering smoke inhalation in the process. The woman also suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to hospital for treatment, where she has remained due to other medical issues which were exacerbated by the incident. Her condition is not believed to be life threatening.
Appliances from Longton, Biddulph, Sandyford and Newcastle-under-Lyme attended. Crews gave Mr Handley and the occupant oxygen therapy at the scene, while other firefighters wore two breathing apparatus and used a hose reel jet to tackle the fire.
Chief Fire Officer Becci Bryant said: “This incident could have so easily resulted in the woman’s death but thanks to the quick thinking actions of Geoffrey her life was saved.
“Geoffrey put himself at significant risk going into the house to rescue the woman from inside. While this is something we would not encourage people to do, on this occasion it’s clear that without his actions the woman would have suffered far worse smoke inhalation and would have most certainly died.
“Geoffrey is awarded a commendation for his incredible bravery and selfless actions on that afternoon in December.”