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Volunteers help residents following Devon fire

29 November 2010

Volunteers and a fireman help a man after a fire© InfoVolunteers arrived in force to help around 200 residents in Devon who had been forced to flee their homes after a house fire broke out near dangerously flammable gas cylinders.

Following a call-out from the local fire service late on 27 November, volunteers from the fire and emergency support service (FESS) raced to a housing estate in the village of Willand. Those residents caught up in the incident were moved to a rest centre set up in a nearby village hall.

The four FESS volunteers did welfare checks with the residents to ensure everyone had what they needed, provided food from the FESS vehicle for assorted pets and – in partnership with the Salvation Army – provided blankets and sleeping bags where they were needed.

‘Needing help’

Malcolm Cook, FESS coordinator, said: “When we were initially called out we thought we would be dealing with just one family, but on arrival found the entire housing estate had been evacuated. That left us with around 200 people, and their pets, needing help.

“It soon became clear this would be a protracted incident so I called in an additional team from Plymouth, who made their way to the scene with extra blankets and sleeping bags for the residents in the rest centre.

“We also helped St John Ambulance volunteers who were providing care for a casualty with a heart condition until paramedics arrived to give further treatment on the scene.”

Effective partnership

While the majority of people were eventually allowed back to their homes, fifty residents had to spend the night in the rest centre so the FESS crews stayed at the scene until four thirty in the morning.

Looking back on the incident, Malcolm added: “This incident provided a great example of how our emergency responders work closely with other organisations to ensure people in crisis get the help they need.”

Learn more about the fire and emergency support service (FESS)

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