Blue Watch Firefighter crews and Firefighter Darren Fenton receive Fire Authority and Chief Fire Officer Commendations

Firefighter Darren Fenton, from Gateshead Blue Watch, plus Blue Watch crews from Byker, Gateshead and Newcastle Central Community Fire Stations – led by watch manager Lee Denny – have been recognised today following the brave and successful water rescue of a man who had jumped into the River Tyne on 15th December 2018, at 5 am.

The Blue Watch crews received Chief Fire Officer’s Commendations, whilst Darren received a Tyne and Wear Fire Authority Meritorious Conduct Award.

TWFRA Chair Barry Curran, with Blue Watch crews and Darren Fenton

Fire Authority Chair, Barry Curran commented:

“Each and every one of these brave firefighters deserves our grateful thanks for ensuring that this rescue ended successfully. Whilst they may talk about what they do as just a job, our firefighters use their skill, experience and training to save lives on a regular basis. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.”

At the time of the 999 call it was a still dark cold night and the low tide was turning. All of this contributed to the challenge of the incident and therefore made the successful rescue of the man, all the more remarkable.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Alan Robson commented:

“This was a very difficult and challenging rescue which demanded the expertise and bravery of the firefighters involved.

Our swift water rescue team from Byker, with support from Newcastle Central and Gateshead crews, was dispatched to the scene to start the search operation. Landside crews began searching from the bankside while the swift water rescue team searched from the water.

Firefighter Fenton used a thermal scanner at the maximum zoom on the Newcastle side and found a faint heat source on the Gateshead river bank. He alerted the swift water rescue team and redirected them to the source, where they found the casualty semi-responsive and profoundly hypothermic. He was transferred to North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) colleagues at the NE1 pontoon then taken to hospital.

There is no doubt that without the actions and professional response of our firefighters that this man would have died. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their commitment and dedication in ensuring this man was rescued – this was a real team effort.”

TWFRA Chair Barry Curran presenting FF Darren Fenton with his CFO Commendation