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Commendation for life saving firefighters

‘We all have a responsibility to look out for each other’

Those are the words of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer Steve Helps as he recognises four resourceful firefighters who helped save a young woman’s life in a bridge-side rescue.

In May this year, Durham Green Watch were called to an incident at Milburngate Bridge in Durham City. On arrival the crew found a woman in severe distress on the wrong side of the bridge.

Time was of the essence and the crew immediately leapt into action, with Firefighter Ian Harris, the crew’s driver, physically holding on to the woman while the rest of the crew assembled their working at height equipment to facilitate a safe rescue.

If it hadn’t had been for FF Harris’ quick thinking and sheer determination to hold on and the rest of the crew’s swift actions, this could have been a very different story.

Praising the crew, CDDFRS Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Steve Helps said: “By working together and with great determination and compassion, I have no doubt our firefighters helped save a life that day.

“I am immensely proud of them all – well done.”

He added: “I also want to thank the member of the public who alerted us to this situation. It’s very easy in life to see someone in what could be distress and walk on or drive by, thinking you’re being a nuisance to call it in without knowing the full circumstances or thinking ‘someone else will call’.

“If you see something that doesn’t feel right and you have genuine concerns for the safety of someone else – like in this situation – please don’t sit idly by.

“We all have a responsibility to look out for each other and the sooner you can safely call us and let us or our other 999 colleagues know, the sooner we can help save a life.”

In honour of their actions, Durham Green Watch firefighters Ian Harris, Neil Swinbank and Jack Helps along with Watch Manager Graeme Hall were officially recognised today (Monday) by CDDFRS’s CFO, who awarded them each with a commendation.

Praising their efforts, Chair of the Fire and Rescue Authority, John Shuttleworth added: “Once again, we are recognising the valuable work firefighters within County Durham and Darlington undertake, it is obvious that their professionalism and training enables them to respond to a wide range of incidents with a variety of risks and do so with great professionalism in order to keep our residents safe, often in very challenging circumstances.

“I am extremely proud of their actions and welcome the award of a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation.”


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