accessibility & help

Volunteers help family caught in house fire

25 February 2010

The three dog's burial crossesVolunteers rushed to help after a devastating house fire caused havoc – and left a family and their young children mourning their beloved Labrador dogs.

The Jarvis family had been looking after a friend’s home – and her dogs – in Blissford, Hampshire when the tragedy happened. Tim Jarvis, accompanied by wife Amanda and daughters Tegan (12) and Pippa (9), was out shopping in Salisbury when a neighbour called with the shocking news.

The neighbour told them that the house was engulfed by flames and that three of the four dogs inside had died. (Two of the dogs belonged to the Jarvis family, and two were owned by the home owner. Both of the Jarvis family pets died in the fire.)

‘Somebody there for us’

Tim recalled: “We were in Marks and Spencers when we got the call. My wife and kids were so distressed that the store manager took them up into the office. All we knew was that three of the four dogs were dead, but at that point we didn’t know which ones.”

Three dogs runningHe added: “We asked a friend to collect our daughters then made our way to the farm. And that’s where we found the Red Cross fire and emergency support service (FESS) crew waiting to take us inside their vehicle and make a cup of tea. If they hadn’t been there, we would have been stood out in the damp, more than a little lost.”

The FESS volunteers provided a crucial respite in the midst of a traumatic day. Tim said: “We really needed somewhere to sit and gather our thoughts with people who understood how we were feeling. Having somebody there for us with a cup of tea was just magic.”

Calm and experienced

Once the fire had been put out, the volunteers were again on hand to offer support. Tim said: “The volunteers, Terry Mair and Rick Mills, took us into the house once the fire service said it was safe and we rescued some of our possessions. It was an awful experience, and the fact that we were looking after the house for a friend made it even worse. The dogs were the crux of it all, though – it was just so traumatic.”

Looking back on the incident, Tim said: “Terry is such a gentle man and very intuitive too. It was the many small things he did – like when Amanda’s sister arrived, he took her cup of tea from her hand so she’d be free to receive a hug. It’s stuff like that which makes a big difference in that kind of situation.”

He added: “The Red Cross stayed with us for about five hours in total, waiting for the fire service to dampen down the house. Terry knew we were going back the next day so came out with us again, advising us on how to stay safe in a burnt-out property. It was certainly nice to have the calm advice of such an experienced man.”

Find out more about the fire and emergency support service

Become an emergency response volunteer

Related

Volunteer icon Volunteer

Do something different in your free time

Sign up for emails

Enter your email address below to receive the latest Red Cross news