accessibility & help

British Red Cross father and son team respond to Crediton thatch fire

For immediate release: Friday, 3 February 2012
For further information: Samantha Whitwham
Contact number: 0117 3012624 or 07525 128 297
Volunteers from the British Red Cross fire and emergency support service (FESS) attended a large blaze in Mill Street, Crediton yesterday afternoon (Thursday 2 February) when a fire broke out in a row of thatched cottages.

Six homes were affected and local residents were evacuated to the Boniface Centre while Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service dealt with the emergency.

The fire service requested the support of the Red Cross to look after the welfare of the evacuated families. Father and son team, Keith and Robert Finch, responded to the call in a customised Red Cross vehicle complete with a shower, cooker, kettle and emergency supplies, to provide immediate care, refreshments, advice and a sympathetic ear to those unable to return to their properties.

Keith, who has been a volunteer with the Red Cross FESS service since it launched nine years ago, said: “There were a lot of people affected by the incident but the community really pulled together and supported each other. Robert and I were able to make sure everyone was safe and well and that they had everything they needed.

“One of the residents evacuated was an older lady who had come out of hospital that day, so it was a priority to make sure she that was comfortable and given emotional support at this distressing time.”

Mike Burroughs, fire protection support officer from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: “The Red Cross volunteers provide an invaluable service to people at a time of great emotional need and stress. When they are looking after the families, it means the firefighters have one less factor to consider.”

For Robert Finch, 18, who had become an active FESS volunteer on Wednesday 1 February, this was his first emergency call out. He said: “Both my parents are FESS volunteers and it’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I was 16. I started my training last year and only became an active member the day before the incident.

“I was a bit nervous on the journey up to Crediton but once I got there my training kicked in and I didn’t have time to think about my nerves. I’m certainly glad I signed up.”

The service, which operates from Plymouth, covers the whole of Devon and has recently extended to operate 24 hours.

Red Cross FESS co-ordinator Malcolm Cook said: “Our volunteers make a real difference to people who may have lost everything at the moment they are needed the most. We are always looking for new volunteers based in the Plymouth area, so if anyone is interested in learning more about the service please contact the Red Cross.”

FESS runs in more than 40 counties across the UK. Using a customised vehicle, volunteers provide those affected by fire or flood with immediate temporary shelter. They are also able to provide first aid, clothes, food, toiletries and help find temporary accommodation and signpost people to other support organisations that can help.

For people who want to find out more about the role and the training provided, please contact Malcolm Cook on 07710 733229 or email

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Notes to editors
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

Follow us on Twitter: @BRC_West

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