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Safety lessons avert fire disaster

PUBLISHED: 14:16 18 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:33 03 March 2010

TEENAGER Amy Fiddamas was praised by fire chiefs today after she helped stop a fire spreading in her home

As flames were coming out of the kitchen of her family's Great Finborough home in the early hours of Sunday morning the 14-year-old knew exactly what to do.

TEENAGER Amy Fiddamas was praised by fire chiefs today after she helped stop a fire spreading in her home

As flames were coming out of the kitchen of her family's Great Finborough home in the early hours of Sunday morning the 14-year-old knew exactly what to do.

As the family evacuated Stowmarket High pupil Amy shut the kitchen doors to help contain the blaze.

It was a tip learned from the Crucial Crew – a scheme teaching children how to deal with emergencies.

Her proud dad, Martin, said: "My daughter was the hero of the day. She's unflappable."

The family including mum Louise and Abbey, 12, were asleep in their beds at 5 am when they were alerted to the fire by their smoke alarm.

Martin, of Middlefield Drive, said: "My wife woke up and said "what's going on?" She put the light on and realised when she went into the hall that the house was on fire.

"We grabbed our clothes.

"The smoke was a couple of feet high from the ceiling. So we crouched down low and everyone got out.

"Then Amy shut the doors – there was smoke bellowing out. It was really quite dramatic. The smoke was so acrid.

"If we hadn't had been alerted by the fire alarm the smoke would have got us before we would have had the chance to get up.

"There were flames coming out from under the work surface that were a foot high.

"It was so scary. Not so much at the time because you just get on with it. But what scares you is when you think about what might have happened. Smoke alarms are just everything."

The fire was caused by a faulty dishwasher.

Amy said: "I went to crucial crew in my middle school and we had a visit to the fire station at Brownies when we learned about what to do."

Crews from Stowmarket and Needham Market arrived within minutes to put out the fire.

Mark Steggal, assistant divisional officer who led the team, praised Amy and said: "What is good about the fact that the doors were closed is that the fire was contained within the kitchen.

"Fortunately by the doors being closed the fire didn't escalate too much at the time.

"The family had also acted responsibly by having a smoke alarm. The fact that the smoke alarm went off, particularly at that time of the morning possibly could have saved their lives."

Jim Manning, Ipswich Borough Council community safety officer, said all Year 10 pupils in the county attend a Crucial Crew session where they pick up tips on crime prevention and safety – including fire safety, first aid advice and road and farm safety.

"There are a number of well documented successes" of children who have put the lessons they learned at Crucial Crew into practice to avert disaster, he said.

Other successes included the actions of friends of a child who was badly injured in a playground accident. "One put him in the recovery position and looked after him and stemmed the bleeding," Mr Manning said, adding that the pupil's quick actions – while they waited for the emergency services to arrive – saved the boys life.

In another incident, pupils who found needles on their school field knew not to touch "nasty rubbish" from a Crucial Crew session and instead alerted teachers who arranged for their safe disposal.


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