Heroic pensioner rewarded for her efforts to help neighbour escape fire

Jess Skuse receives an awardThe Chair of Avon Fire Authority is to present a Bristol pensioner with an award for bravery.

Councillor Terry Walker will be joined by Chief Fire Officer, Kevin Pearson, to present 91 year-old Jess Skuse, from Knowle, with an award from the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire.

Early in the morning on Monday 11 February 2013, Ms Skuse, who lives in St Martin’s Close, awoke to the smell of smoke which was coming from her neighbour’s flat.

Realising there was a fire, Ms Skuse quickly tried to alert her neighbour, Evan Davis. On entering his flat Ms Skuse was able to assist Mr Davis to safety before the fire service arrived. Her actions ultimately saved his life.

Chief Fire Officer, Kevin Pearson, said: “This was a particularly heroic thing to do. Not only did Ms Skuse put the safety of her neighbour ahead of her own, she showed great strength both in character and physically.

“While we would never advise members of the public to enter a smoke filled property, her actions undoubtedly saved Mr Davis’ life. I feel extremely honoured to meet Ms Skuse and present her with this award.”

Sadly, Mr Davis died a few months later, but not as a result of the fire.

Ms Skuse was nominated for an award from the Royal Humane Society by AF&RS Station Manager Rob Seaman.

He said: “To do something like this takes real bravery and I felt it was only right to recognise Ms Skuse’s actions. Just two or three breaths of toxic smoke from a house fire is enough to kill, so the sooner you can get to fresh air the better. Without Ms Skuse’s quick-thinking the situation could have been much worse.

“It is important to install smoke alarms on every level of your home. They can provide an early warning that a fire has broken out, allowing you and your family to escape, especially at night - but only if your alarms are working.  It is important to check the batteries are working at least once a week.”

The fire started accidentally after a tea towel was left on a lamp to dry and began to smoulder, creating thick black smoke.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service visits the homes of those at most risk to provide home fire safety advice and fit smoke detectors, if required.