Chief Fire Officer praises heroic actions of North Somerset residents

The Chief Fire Officer for Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) has praised the actions of four North Somerset residents after their actions saved the lives of their neighbours.

Chief Fire Officer Kevin Pearson presented Chief Fire Officer’s Commendations on Friday 29 May to four individuals following incidents in Pill and Clevedon.

On Wednesday 24 December 2014 firefighters were called to a house fire in Highdale Avenue, Clevedon. A fire had started in the microwave and the occupant, a man with mobility and health issues, called out for help.

John and Zoe Yeoman, who at the time of the incident were 80 and 75 respectively, heard the calls for help and entered the smoke-filled property. Mrs Yeoman had to withdraw due to the heat and smoke but Mr Yeoman continued and was able to assist his neighbour to safety.

On Tuesday 3 February 2015 John Gaffney was in his garden in Newsome Avenue, Pill, when he heard a smoke alarm activating. Without hesitation he entered the property, which was filling with thick black smoke, and found his disabled neighbour who uses a wheelchair in the sitting room.

The whole room was affected by fire and Mr Gaffney managed to help his neighbour, whose clothes were on fire, to safety, sustaining burns to his hands.

In the early hours of Thursday 5 February 2015 firefighters responded to a fire in Bramley Close, Pill, in which a mother and her two children, aged six months and three years, were thought to be trapped.

Graham Lacey heard cries for help and climbed onto a plastic storage unit in the garden, using a children’s slide as a ladder. He then climbed onto the first floor pitched roof where the mother passed the baby to him. He took the child along the roof to the next door bedroom window and passed them inside. He then repeated this with the three year-old and returned to help the mother out of the window.

Chief Fire Officer Kevin Pearson said: “While we would never advise anyone to enter a smoke-filled house and put their own life in jeopardy, it is clear that the actions of these four people deserve some recognition.

“On hearing smoke alarms activating or calls for help they wasted no time in attempting to rescue those in need. It was an honour to meet such courageous and self-less people. Without their bravery there could have been very tragic outcomes to these incidents.

“Chief Fire Officer’s Commendations are awarded to members of the public who have assisted someone in danger and have no emergency life-saving skills of their own. I am immensely proud of these individuals and was honoured to recognise their bravery.”