Firefighters battled a blaze at a home in Rhu during the early hours of Wednesday (26 February) and provided treatment to an elderly woman suffering from smoke inhalation.
Crews from Helensburgh Community Fire Station used eight dry powder extinguishers to contain the flames, which had taken hold within a utility cupboard at a two-storey property on Lineside Walk shortly before midnight.
Station Manager Steven Harper, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) incident commander, said: “This fire had the potential to be far worse and the professionalism of our crews was essential to successfully containing it.
“Firefighters in breathing apparatus were constantly inside the property and repeatedly knocked-down the flames using dry powder extinguishers, however the presence of live electricity meant it could not be fully extinguished until engineers cut off the power supply.
“The skill and hard work of crews meant the fire was contained to the area around the utility cupboard and did not spread throughout the house.”
A woman sustained slight smoke inhalation in the incident and was given oxygen therapy by firefighters before receiving a precautionary check-up from paramedics.
Smoke and heat caused damage beyond the seat of the fire, with the incident commander clear that the presence of two working smoke alarms meant the woman was given crucial early warning of danger developing within her home.
Station Manager Harper explained: “This was a fierce-going fire and while the flames were successfully contained, the intensity of heat did cause damage to the hallway and thick smoke affected about half of the property.
“Thankfully the resident had ensured her home was protected by working smoke alarms on both floors, which successfully drew her attention to the presence of fire and gave her vital time to get out and call us out.
“Not only did this mean she escaped with only minor smoke inhalation, it also ensured firefighters were able to reach the incident in time to tackle the flames before they spread and prevent greater damage.
“Anyone who doesn’t have a working smoke alarm on every level of their property has to recognise fire can strike anywhere and these devices are absolutely crucial to preventing injuries and deaths. People should also consider fitting a heat alarm within their kitchen.”
Two SFRS appliances responded to the incident, with the operation including both wholetime firefighters and those on the retained duty system.
Communities in Argyll and Bute, like many throughout Scotland, are protected by the professional fire and rescue cover of firefighters who hold other employment but respond whenever there is an emergency in the area where they live and work.
Station Manager Harper said: “You can’t discern who’s who on the fire-ground – both wholetime and retained crews work to the extremely high standard expected of the professional firefighter and that was clear at this fire.
“Many of our retained crews include firefighters with decades of experience in the role, which sees them respond to the full range of emergencies where SFRS is needed.
“It is a challenging role. Those who commit to providing their communities with essential fire and rescue cover undertake two to three hours of training every week to develop and maintain the specialist skills demanded of any firefighter.”
As well as responding to emergencies like fires and road traffic collisions, retained firefighters also undertake prevention work key to raising awareness of risks and helping residents stay safe.
Crews throughout Scotland regularly visit members of the public who have signed up for the popular Free Home Fire Safety Visit programme.
Arranging a visit is easy and anyone who thinks they could benefit should call 0800 0731 999, text ‘check’ to 61611, fill out a form at www.firescotland.gov.uk or by contact their local fire station. People who look out for someone who could be vulnerable are also urged to put them in touch with SFRS.
Retained firefighters receive a fee in return for their commitment as well as additional payments for every incident and training night they attend.
Information on how to become a retained firefighter can be found by visiting the myjobscotland website and searching for ‘Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’.