Smoke alarms save elderly man after dramatic kitchen blaze

A Wearside resident is lucky to be alive after being dramatically rescued by firefighters following a ferocious fire in his home.

Senior fire officers at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have praised the life-saving intervention at the property in Houghton-le-Spring.

Crews were alerted to the fire in the early hours of September 9th when an elderly male occupant of a bungalow was thankfully awoken by his smoke alarms.

The resident, in his 80s, went to investigate finding his kitchen well alight and his exit routes blocked. It was then that he dialled 999.

The first of three appliances from Farringdon and Rainton Bridge Community Fire Stations were on scene within four-minutes of the call.

When the crews arrived they found the casualty at his bedroom window and used specialist breathing apparatus and a fire hose reel to bring him to safety.

The resident was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and shock but was later released in to the care of his family.

Investigations later found the fire was accidental and likely to have been an electrical fire caused by a faulty fridge.

Today TWFRS have released shocking photographs displaying the aftermath of the fire with senior fire officers praising those involved in the life-saving response.

Area Manager Dave Leach, of TWFRS, said: “Our crews work tirelessly on station to train for every eventuality, including house fires of this nature.

“So that when they are called upon to make a difference and save a person’s life, they have all of the knowhow in place to successfully perform the rescue.

“On this occasion their intervention almost certainly saved a life and I want to say how proud I am of this response.

“I also want to praise staff in our Fire Control who were able to keep the occupant calm and get the information they needed to quickly dispatch crews.

“We are glad that the gentleman has not been seriously injured but we know how distressing incidents like this can be, particularly when a home is destroyed.

“In this instance a smoke alarm played an important role in alerting him to danger, so we would ask our communities to check your smoke alarm is in working order.”

One of the grateful occupant’s daughters also contacted TWFRS following the incident to thank them for their intervention.

She said: “If it wasn’t for my dad’s working smoke alarms, the bravery of the firefighters, and having access to a mobile phone – he wouldn’t be alive today.”

Cllr Phil Tye, Chairperson of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, also took the opportunity to praise crews.

He said: “This rescue shows the exemplary efforts put in, day-in and day-out by our fire crews and control room staff that all help to keep the residents of Tyne and Wear safe at their greatest time of need.

“The Fire Authority is proud to represent the fire service staff whose dedication to the cause continues to ensure that TWFRS is recognised as one of the leading fire services in the country.”

For those people who feel their home requires a ‘Safe and Well’ visit by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service officers to assess things like smoke alarms, heat monitors and trip hazards then please visit

Reaching out to the Fire Service could be a matter of life or death.