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Men commended for bravery after car fire rescue

August 9 2018
Chief Fire Officer Becci Bryant with Chris Hartis and Usman Shafiq

Chief Fire Officer Becci Bryant with Chris Hartis and Usman Shafiq

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has recognised two members of the public for their bravery at a serious incident.

This incident could have so easily resulted in the death of Usman but thanks to the quick thinking actions of Chris and the other man his life was saved.

Chief Fire Officer Becci Bryant

Chris Hartis, from Stratford-upon-Avon, was awarded a commendation during a ceremony at Tamworth Belgrave Community Fire Station last night, Wednesday, August 8. Another man from Nottingham was also awarded a commendation but he was unable to attend the event.

On the morning of Tuesday, April 3, the two men were travelling on the A5 near Tamworth when they noticed a motorist, Usman Shafiq, in difficulty. Usman was travelling in his car when it suffered catastrophic mechanical failure, leading to a fire breaking out within the engine bay. This also resulted in the loss of brakes and all electrics, disabling the central locking and leaving him trapped inside the burning vehicle.

Usman was eventually able to stop his vehicle but by this time the fire had developed. As the flames breached the passenger compartment Mr Hartis and his fellow rescuer used bare hands and bricks to smash the window and pull him to safety. Firefighters from Tamworth Belgrave arrived shortly after and extinguished the blaze using two hose reel jets while wearing two breathing apparatus.

Other than smoke inhalation Usman was unharmed and was checked over by paramedics as a precaution, he also attended the ceremony to personally thank Chris for his life saving actions.

Usman said: “I cannot thank Chris and my other rescuer enough. If it wasn’t for their quick actions I wouldn’t be here today. It was the most terrifying experience being trapped inside the car and not knowing what was going to happen, I felt such relief once they got me out. Other motorists that drive modern cars should be aware that if their electrics fail this could happen to them, always be alert and look for ways to escape, such as using the metal points on the head rest to smash the windows – at the time this happened this didn’t occur to me but I now know what to do in an emergency.”

Chief Fire Officer Becci Bryant said: “This incident could have so easily resulted in the death of Usman but thanks to the quick thinking actions of Chris and the other man his life was saved.

“They both put themselves at significant risk by approaching the burning car and forcing entry. They are awarded commendations for their incredible bravery and selfless actions.”