©InfoEmergency response volunteers helped Peter Tibbitts after he was rescued from a terrifying fire in his block of flats – eleven storeys up.
Peter (53), from Edgbaston, was woken in the early hours by a smoke alarm and banging on the door from neighbours. Quickly rising, he opened the front door to find a wall of choking black smoke.
He recalled: “Outside was total darkness and you couldn’t breathe. I got a couple of gulps of smoke, then quickly closed the door. It was terrifying.”
Peter rushed to the phone and called the emergency services, who advised him to seal the gaps around the doors and stay inside. Within minutes, he was rescued by fire crews and led to safety.
He was standing, shaken and alone, on the pavement when Red Cross fire and emergency support service (FESS) arrived to help. FESS volunteers help people cope after a fire or emergency, providing practical help and advice – as well as shelter in a specially-adapted vehicle.
A grateful Peter remembered: “The volunteers came to see if I was alright and said: ‘We’ve got a vehicle, if you’d like a cup of tea.’ They gave me some drinks and chatted to me while I was recovering from the shock. They also gave me a handy package with washing items, then took me to my mother’s where I stayed until I could go home.”
He added: “The fire gave me a feeling of being trapped and could have killed me, so it was really nice to have the Red Cross there. I want to say thank you for their help and support.”
Daphne Kirk, FESS co-ordinator, explained: “We work hand in glove with the fire and rescue service, helping people like Peter when they need us. It’s always exciting and dynamic because we never know who will need our support until we get there – no two calls are the same.”
She added: “Our FESS volunteers are all ages and come from a wide range of backgrounds, but we’re always looking for more people to come and help. The role is often ideal for those who are retired or work shifts.”