Off-duty firefighter rushes from family meal to stop bedroom fire

An off-duty firefighter has been commended for his exemplary actions after he left a family meal to stop a fire in Rugeley.

Watch Manager Simon England was enjoying a much-earned break with his wife on the afternoon of 6 August this year, when he spotted flames coming from the windows of a building nearby.

Without hesitation, he left his wife and sprinted to the scene.

He jumped a large gate into a farmer’s field and ran through nettles in order to get to the back of the building.

Thankfully, the occupiers had left after hearing their smoke alarm actuating. They were on the phone to the Fire Service when Simon arrived.

He made sure that everyone had been evacuated before going upstairs and closing all the doors. They had been left open because of the hot temperatures on the day, allowing smoke and heat to spread through each room.

Simon spoke to the control room and told them of his actions. By closing off the bedroom, it was now a self-ventilated compartment fire which helped crews from Cannock and Lichfield to formulate a plan on route and safely extinguish the blaze.

They used two breathing apparatus and a hose reel jet to extinguish a chair and other furnishings which had caught fire in the bedroom. They had ignited accidentally as a result of intense sunlight which was glaring through the window. It was enough to heat the fabric and ignite a fire, which could have quickly spread through the entire house if not for Simon’s quick thinking.

Thankfully, no one was injured and the occupier’s house was not severely damaged.

Simon stayed at the scene and gave fire crews a briefing before calmly returning to his wife for a well-deserved sit-down.

He said: “This just goes to show how important smoke alarms are. No one would’ve known about this fire until it began to escalate out of control.

“I’m glad that I was able to assist with the initial response and help reduce the damage to the property. The occupiers did the right thing by evacuating immediately and ringing the fire service as soon as it was safe to do so.

“It’s a perfect example of why it is so important to test your smoke alarms regularly and make sure doors and windows inside your property can be fully closed.

“This incident happened by accident and would’ve escalated if the fire alarms did not actuate. Thankfully, we were there to help put a stop to it before it caused widespread damage.”

As a result of his selfless actions, Simon was recently nominated for the Chief Fire Officer’s (CFO) Commendation award by Station Manager Rich Williams.

“I have no doubt that Simon’s actions were crucial in mitigating the damage caused to the property and ensuring the occupiers escaped unharmed,” said SM Williams.

“He put the safety of others before his own and has shown that he is prepared to protect our communities 365 days a year.

“Hopefully he doesn’t have to dash off again the next time he’s out enjoying some well-earned down time.”

CFO Barber presented Simon with a certificate in front of his watch team at Rugeley Fire Station on Monday (7 November).

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