A hero's welcome...

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Retired firefighters return to meet the family saved from 1993 blaze in Dumfries.

Tate family DG1

Firefighters who rescued four small children from a blaze in a Dumfries home 20 years ago returned to their old station to meet the family they saved.

Phillip Tate suffered 40 per cent burns and spent seven months in hospital as a result of the fire.

His sister Emma had to be revived twice by paramedics at the scene, while brothers Peter and Brian also had to be rescued from their home.

Flames took hold within a bedroom on 30 December 1993, when one of the four Tate children – who were all under six years of age at the time – was playing with matches.

As mother Patsy ran to ask their next-door neighbours for help the door to the house accidentally closed and locked behind her, trapping the children inside the burning building.

The neighbours, whose own son was an on-duty firefighter, immediately called 999 and crews made their way to the scene prepared for a difficult search and rescue operation to save the family.

Donning full breathing apparatus and forcing entry to the house, the firefighters found all four children and carried them from the house to paramedics standing ready outside.

Members of the Tate family, including Phillip, Emma and their own children – as well as now grandmother Patsy – were welcomed at Dumfries Fire Station by two of their rescuers and today’s firefighters.

Phillip told retired Station Officer Jim McQuat and retired Firefighter David Dickson: “I would not be here today with my children and have the life I have now without you being there when you were needed.”

The visit came about after Phillip saw a similar story on the Jeremy Kyle Show, which prompted him to get in touch with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Station Manager Colin Wallace said: “The heroic actions of the firefighters on duty that night prevented the deaths of four small children.

“They put their training into practice and demonstrated the courage and professionalism we all hope our families will never have to rely on.

“Over the past 20 years the public have undoubtedly become more aware of the risk of fire: More homes are protected by working smoke alarms; fewer lives are lost through fire.

“It is vitally important that we all recognise fire can happen to us and take action to prevent it causing deaths and injuries.

“Even when there is no loss of life, fire in the home is a deeply traumatic experience that can have devastating emotional impact on those who are injured and their families, especially when it involves children.

“I would like to extend my thanks to Phillip for getting in touch, and to him, Emma and Patsy for visiting the firefighters who were on duty that night.

“It is great to see their family survived this horrendous experience and the children our community almost lost that night now have kids of their own.

“We need everyone to join Scotland’s fight against fire and take action to protect themselves and those around them.

“If you or someone you know could benefit from some potentially life-saving tips to reduce the risk of fire starting and raise the chance of everyone getting to safety if it does, then we need you to get in touch with us.”

Crews across Dumfries and Galloway and throughout Scotland routinely conduct home fire safety visits, where residents have invited their local firefighters to share their expert knowledge.

The firefighters provide friendly advice and reassurance, as well as fitting long-life smoke alarms where needed and helping the residents create their own Fire Action Plan – all completely free of charge.

To arrange a free home fire safety visit, call the SFRS freephone number 0800 0731 999 or contact your local fire station.

Tate family DG2

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