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Neighbour awarded Chief Fire Officer Commendation

crew and award recipients stood in front of fire engine

This week Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer presented a member of the public with a commendation for brave actions that likely saved their neighbour from serious burns.

On Saturday 28 August 2021, Michelle Burton was at home on Church Lane, Barrow-on-Trent, with her young son when she noticed an unfamiliar noise. Having checked her own flat for appliances that may be sounding, Michelle realised it may be coming from her elderly neighbours flat above. Michelle courageously entered her neighbours smoke filled flat and helped her elderly neighbour to safety, before she was handed into the care of East Midlands Ambulance Service.

Presenting Michelle with a special commendation to acknowledge her brave actions, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Rob Taylor said: “Michelle demonstrated selfless bravery by entering the flat fire in August and rescuing the occupant before the arrival of fire crews. She risked personal injury by entering the property, but thankfully was unharmed.”

Whilst recognising Michelle’s bravery in entering the flat fire, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service would like to remind people of the dangers of entering a burning building and returning into a building if you have escaped. In the event of a fire, Get Out, Stay Out and call 999.

An investigation into the cause of the fire at the Barrow-on-Trent flat concluded that the most likely cause was accidental due to smoking materials.

The Service would like to ask anyone who smokes to take a couple of minutes to read vital advice on preventing a smoking related fire in the home. If you have elderly family, friends or neighbours, please take a minute to check they know how to stay safe too:

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Use a proper ashtray - never a wastepaper basket.
  • Make sure your ashtray can't tip over and is made of a material that won't burn.
  • Don't leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around. They can easily fall over and start a fire.
  • Take extra care if you smoke when you're tired, taking prescription drugs, or if you've been drinking. You might fall asleep and set your sofa or bed on fire.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children's reach.
  • Consider buying child resistant lighters and match boxes.
  • Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully. Put them out. Right out!
  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms fitted on every level of the home and check them weekly.
  • Have a planned and practiced escape route – ensure you know how you would get out in the event of a fire remembering to Get Out, Stay Out, and Call 999.