Fire rescue prompts smoke alarm calls
A FIRE officer yesterday warned of the perils of not having a properly installed smoke alarm after a man was rescued from a blazing house.Station Officer Pete Holding was one of a fire crew who entered a burning and heavily smoke-logged detached property in Ardleigh, near Colchester, after passers-by reported the blaze.
By Roddy Ashworth
A FIRE officer yesterday warned of the perils of not having a properly installed smoke alarm after a man was rescued from a blazing house.
Station Officer Pete Holding was one of a fire crew who entered a burning and heavily smoke-logged detached property in Ardleigh, near Colchester, after passers-by reported the blaze.
With exceptionally low visibility they managed to help a choking and disoriented 63-year-old man from the premises before he was seriously hurt.
The drama unfolded shortly after 12.30pm yesterday when emergency crews were sent to John de Bois Hill to tackle the house fire.
When firefighters arrived at the scene they were unable to see inside because the entire detached house was filled with noxious black smoke.
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One crew went to the rear of the house – which measured around 10 metres by eight metres - where they could make out flames through a window near the kitchen.
They then made their way inside to tackle the blaze while a second crew prepared to enter the front of the house to try and ventilate it.
Mr Holding said: "We suddenly heard some banging at one of the windows. We couldn't see in because the smoke was so thick.
"So we broke down the door and dragged a gentleman out.
"He went to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation, and his condition there is now stable.
"He is very lucky."
Mr Holding added that there had not been a smoke alarm in the building.
"If he had had a smoke alarm, he would have had that early warning and by the time we arrived he would have been standing outside the house.
"Smoke alarms do save peoples' lives, but often we find properties without them, or without batteries, or in a drawer having not yet been put up.
"Quite often we turn up at peoples' houses with a family outside or at a neighbours, and we think: 'Without a smoke alarm they might well have died.'
"A smoke alarm at the centre of the hall and one on the landing ceiling, preferably linked together, is ideal. They are not expensive and not difficult to install."
Because of the seriousness of yesterday's house blaze, a joint Essex Police and Fire Service investigation has been launched.
Last week David Turner, chief fire officer in Essex, said crews across Essex would be putting all their efforts into a new Home Fire Safety Campaign in coming months.
The announcement came after seven people died in house fires in the county this January – almost the same figure as for the whole of 2004.
Anybody who wants a home safety visit should contact the Essex Fire and Rescue Service.