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Volunteers respond to ‘huge blaze’ in block of flats

6 June 2011

Volunteers discuss an incident with a fireman© InfoWhen dozens of firefighters were called out to tackle a huge blaze in Southampton at the weekend, the Red Cross was quickly on hand to offer support.

Residents were forced to flee when a block of 38 flats in the Woolston area caught fire during the afternoon of 4 June. As ten fire engines fought to contain the blaze, one elderly man had to be rescued from his balcony and was taken to the local hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

Following a call-out from the emergency services, four volunteers from the Red Cross’ fire and emergency support service (FESS) raced to the scene. As the block had to be completely evacuated and sealed off, the team were left with more than 30 people needing immediate help.

‘Big challenge’

The volunteers handed out refreshments and advised residents on sorting their insurance claims – they also provided emotional support for those who needed it. When the landlord of the property arrived, he headed straight for the FESS team  for help and together they arranged temporary hotel accommodation for the stranded residents.

Later in the afternoon, the busy FESS volunteers - Shaun Taylor, Lee Grover, John Drudge and Malcolm Jefferies - heard that the man rescued from his balcony earlier had been given the all-clear, so they collected him from hospital and took him to the hotel.

Sarah Park, service manager, said: “Our volunteers always do a fantastic job but, with so many people needing help, they really did have a big challenge to face. It’s a tribute to their professionalism and commitment that everyone got the help they needed.”

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

Become a  FESS volunteer

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