accessibility & help

British Red Cross volunteers assist fire service at Plymouth blaze

For immediate release:  Thursday, 14 July
For further information:  Samantha Whitwham or Rebecca McIlhone
Contact number:  0117 3012608 / 0117 3012624
Volunteers from the British Red Cross fire and emergency support service (FESS) responded to a severe house fire in Ernesettle, Plymouth last night (Thursday 14 July). The volunteers were called out in the early hours of the morning to provide practical and emotional support to those affected by the blaze.

Husband and wife team, Keith and Ruth Finch, along with Deborah Cowl and Mikey Way responded to the emergency at the request of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. Two people were immediately transported to hospital, but a neighbouring home was also affected by water and smoke damage.

The Red Cross volunteers, who attended the scene in a customised vehicle complete with a shower, cooker, kettle and emergency supplies, were able to offer a family of six immediate shelter, fresh clothing, and refreshments. They also provided practical advice such as arranging alternative accommodation and a sympathetic ear on what was a very traumatic night.

Keith said: “Providing support and guidance to people who find themselves in crisis is what we are trained to do. The family were understandably very shocked and upset but they were very grateful for the support that we were able to give them at obviously a very emotional time.”

Working in partnership with the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Red Cross volunteers are able to support those affected by domestic fires, providing them with immediate care, attention and emotional support and allowing the fire service to concentrate on extinguishing the fire and making the area safe.

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. Our volunteers give up their own time to respond to these calls and they provide an invaluable service to people at a time of great emotional need and stress.”

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.

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