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Fire rescue family thank firefighters

29 December 2017

A family who have been left homeless when a fire destroyed their home have made a special visit to Jersey Fire and Rescue Service to thank their “heroes”.

The Griffiths’ family home in St Clement was engulfed in flames, just before Christmas. Mother Nadine and her children, George (7) and Mollie (5), escaped from their home unharmed but their cat Tinka had to be rescued and resuscitated by the Fire Service. 

Mrs Griffiths said that she was so grateful for the support they have had since the fire turned their lives upside-down. She and her husband, Jamie, said ‘We wish to sincerely thank the Fire Service for rescuing and reviving Tinka – they are our heroes. A simple accident took minutes to ignite an uncontrollable fire. I never thought that this would happen to us so please be warned. 

‘Since the fire we have being trying to salvage some belongings of sentimental value. Losing our home with all its memories has been extremely difficult. However, we are extremely grateful that our family were uninjured. 

Mrs Griffiths added that they have been staying with her parents since the fire, which has given the children some stability, especially over the Christmas period. The couple said: ‘We are so thankful to the amazing family and friends who have been so supportive to us at this difficult time. We have been overwhelmed by people’s kindness, understanding and generosity.’

Mrs Griffiths said she arrived home after picking her children up from school and stacked washing baskets to the side of the cooker while she quickly went to her bedroom to get changed out of her wet clothes. 

‘It was at this point that my son George ran to me screaming that the kitchen was on fire, as his bedroom is in line with the kitchen area. The fire was filling the small kitchen area so I knew there was nothing I could do. I instructed the children to run to my car to keep safe while I located the mobile phone and keys and followed,’ she said.

‘We had only had the new electric cooker for a couple of weeks. The dials faced upright and turned very easily without depressing them. 

‘The smoke damage to the rest of the property and belongings is unbelievable. The smoke gets into every corner of even closed drawers and the smell is toxic. We are due to meet the insurance company, who have been very helpful, and who are to confirm the final outcome of the situation. However we recommend that families should evaluate their own contents and property insurance annually.’

‘I just want to warn others how easily and quickly these things can happen. You never think these things happen to you. Our son George raised the alarm before the smoke alarm sounded and both followed good instructions to exit the house. They had been given fire safety talks in school but I think it is so important for parents to talk to children about what they should do at home in event of a fire, and know the emergency exits and assemble in a safe area.’

When the White Watch Fire crew attended they had to rescue and resuscitate the family’s cat Tinka using a pet oxygen mask. Tinka has recovered well but will have permanent damage to her lungs.

Watch Commander Paul McGrath said that the White Watch crew used specialist equipment to treat the cat for smoke inhalation.

Crews carry mini face masks, for pets, to give oxygen to domestic animals such as dogs and cats who may be overcome by smoke inhalation from a fire. 

Mr McGrath said: ‘It was refreshing to hear that the input that the children had received from the fire service was used on this occasion and the alarm was raised and everyone left the property and called for assistance.

‘Please be warned that your hob is not an extension of your work surfaces and should be left clear and isolated at all times when not cooking. We attend lots of incidents where items placed on the hob have caused a fire, even if the hob has been used recently but is off, the residual heat is enough to, in the best case scenario, cause irreparable damage to the hob and worse case, devastating damage to the home and potentially loss of life.’

Mr McGrath also had this advice following a fire: ‘We understand that when we arrive on scene that you are involved in a stressful situation but please prepare yourself for the following questions that fire officers may ask:

  • Last known location of persons within the property and how many are there?
  • Last known location of any pets?
  • How can we isolate the electricity and gas supply?
‘If a fire occurs at your property please do not go back inside, call the fire service and stay out.’

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