Troops praised for fire tackle

QUICK and professional actions of a Green Goddess crew and their support were praised last night for saving a house in Suffolk from going up in flames.

QUICK and professional actions of a Green Goddess crew and their support were praised last night for saving a house in Suffolk from going up in flames.

The incident was one of the most serious to take place in Suffolk since the firefighters' strike started last Friday.

Emergency services were called to a house in Ashdown Way, Ipswich, after flames were reported to be coming from a downstairs bedroom.

A Green Goddess crew, a Breathing Apparatus Rescue Team (BART) and Rescue Equipment Support Team (REST) were on the scene within minutes.

The fire, reported to have started when an electric blanket caught light, was quickly put out.

One elderly man was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. He had been able to get out of the burning bedroom before the emergency services arrived at the scene.

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Flying Officer Mike Barclay was delighted with the way the troops responded to the incident.

He said: "It has been the most major situation in Ipswich in terms of danger to casualties and we handled it extremely well. We were there within 11 minutes of the call.

"I spoke to three members of the family and they were extremely pleased with the way we dealt with the fire. They were very grateful."

Earlier yesterday striking firefighters in west Suffolk were the first in the county to leave their picket lines after receiving reports that people were trapped in a burning house.

And despite their ongoing pay dispute with the government, the Newmarket firefighters who rushed to help said their actions simply underlined their commitment to saving lives.

The crew, based at Exeter Road, were alerted to the blaze yesterday morning after receiving a call from Suffolk's chief fire officer, asking them to attend an address in Rowley Drive where homeowners were thought to be trapped.

They left their picket lines and donned breathing apparatus, helping police and ambulance workers rescue the disorientated and elderly lady whose home was smoke-logged following a chimney fire.

"We had finished the job, gone back to the picket line and were about to have a cup of tea when we saw a Green Goddess engine go past," said Simon Deeley, who formed half of the two-man breathing apparatus team.

"The armed forces had travelled from Bury St Edmunds, and it took them 40 minutes to get here. It shows there is a huge hole in fire cover in Newmarket at the moment – and Newmarket is a large area to cover."

The Newmarket firefighters believe they are the first in the county to leave the picket lines during their eight-day strike, which began on Friday.

But feelings towards the government, who the union members blame for their industrial action, have not weakened as the days have passed.

Firefighter Deeley added: "Nobody wants to be in this situation. We save lives and property, and help bridge the gap by providing first aid to people before the professionals in ambulances turn up.

"We understand the soldiers have a job to do, but they can only do as well as the equipment they have got."

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