Fifteen firefighters have been honoured for their role in saving the lives of 11 people trapped in a flats fire.
On December 13, 2005, White Watch Luton, who had been at the massive Buncefield fuel depot blaze the night before, were called to a fire at Nightingale Court, Waldeck Road, Luton.
Fire in a ground floor flat of the four storey building was producing large amounts of thick black smoke which smoke-logged the only stairwell.
According to the citation, poor maintenance of the doors to all flats, along with the lobby fire doors on each floor being wedged open, meant all the flats became smoke-logged.
The two rescue pump crews were confronted with residents appearing at windows on all floors, shouting for help and firefighters decided to evacuate all the residents via ladders hastily positioned to the front face of the building.
A three month old baby was carried down a 9m ladder from a second floor flat and a further four adults were helped down the ladder from the same flat.
An elderly lady was assisted down a triple extension ladder from a first floor flat and a small child and two adults rescued from a ground floor flat.
A mother and teenage son were trapped by smoke in the bedroom of a third floor flat and a 13.5m ladder was pitched.
They were too frightened to negotiate the ladder and were rescued by Luton’s aerial platform which had arrived at the incident along with two further rescue pumps following an assistance message.
In all, 11 people were rescued in a very short time and a well developed fire extinguished by breathing apparatus crews using two water jets.
Presenting the Certificate of Commendations, Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller told guests at the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s special awards evening last Tuesday: “This was a very real case of firefighters acting in the very best traditions of the Fire and Rescue Service, working proficiently and expertly in an extremely demanding situation.”
Honoured were Mr Kevin Parker (Retired firefighter), Firefighters Robert Hulatt, Tracy Hutchinson, Andy Mabbett, Chris Roast, Alex Russell, Matt Seymour, Alan Tolman, Crew Commander Mark Connelly, Crew Commander Steve Luff, Crew Commander Mark Middleton, Crew Commander Andy Reeve, Watch Commander Malcolm Ball, Watch Commander Ivan Finch, Watch Commander Tony Young.
Control Room staff on duty who received and managed numerous calls for help were also honoured: FFC Faye Roast – who took the initial call for help, WMC Sue Beck, FFC Ann Stevens, FFC Cathy Bailey (no longer with the service).
The incident was also dealt with by the day Watch when they came on duty at 9am:
SFCO Tony Harris (retired), WMC Karen Crane, FFC Debbie Clay, CMC Verity Harrison, FFC Elaine Willison.
Also at the ceremony, which took place at Bedford School,firefighters were awarded the prestigious Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct medal, which is issued, under Royal Warrant, to operational personnel with 20 years exemplary service.
A medal was presented by the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis to Watch Commander Darren Evans (Dunstable).
Cllr David McVicar, Fire Authority Chairman, presented Control Operator Winnie Fleming and Control Watch Commander Steve Regolo with the Fire Authority’s 25 Year long service award, which acknowledges continuous service with BFRS under the Fire and Rescue Authority and its predecessor, the former Bedfordshire County Council.
Dunstable Firefighter Haydon Littlewood received the Contributing to Young People Award for his work in organising a special Fire Station Open Day for Deaf people earlier this year.