Giving recognition to individuals who perform acts of bravery in rescuing others from fire

Recent cases

Recommendations for awards are considered at regular meetings of the Trustees, at which the Trustees (drawn from the British insurance industry), scrutinise nomination forms received from police forces and fire brigades and decide each case on its reported merits.

In the last full year of meetings (November 2014 to November 2015) there were 53 certificates awarded, 16 to members of the public and 37 to police officers. One of the members of the public was also awarded the Society’s silver medal for conspicuous bravery. All such awards recognise the distinguished conduct of individuals in helping to save people from fires.

Case summaries

The following summaries illustrate the types of incidents in which people have acted bravely to rescue others from fires. In each of the summarised incidents the nominees received Society awards.

(Click on a heading below to read more)

Vehicle Fire

Two police officers were called to a road traffic collision in Westerham, Kent. They found a burning vehicle on its side in a ditch with the woman driver trapped inside. After some time and with great difficulty the two officers gained entry to the car. In the face of dense smoke and flames spreading into the cockpit through the footwell, they managed to release the occupant and carry her away to a safe distance. The rescuers were found to be suffering from exhaustion and smoke inhalation. In the opinion of a Watch Manager of Kent F&RS, whose fire appliance was next on the scene, they had saved the life of the driver.

Nomination from Kent Police

Block of flats arson fire

A fire was started deliberately on the second floor of a block of flats. The nominee led to safety the occupants of his flat and then re-entered the building to alert and rescue occupants on a higher floor, making his way through dense smoke and considerable heat on stairs and landings. When a Lancashire F&RS crew found him in thick smoke on an upper, suffering the effects of the extreme conditions, he began trying to direct their rescue efforts. They escorted him to safety and into the care of an ambulance crew. He had placed his life in grave danger while attempting to save the lives of his neighbours.

Nomination from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Domestic (bedroom) fire

Late at night, in a cottage in Thornton, Fife, an elderly lady (99) was in bed and using a heat pad on her neck. Suddenly the appliance exploded and set fire to the bedclothes. She found herself struggling unsuccessfully to escape a developing fire. Her cries and the sound of the smoke alarm alerted her housekeeper, who entered the bedroom, got the lady to her feet, and escorted her out of the room and away into the open air at the rear of the cottage. (Eventually the premises was engulfed and the front windows blew out.) The rescuer, dressed only in a nightgown and with bare feet, and suffering from minor burns and smoke inhalation, then ran to nearby cottages to raise the alarm and get the fire brigade called.

Nomination from Fife Fire and Rescue Service

Domestic (kitchen) fire

One lunchtime, a cooker caught fire in the kitchen of a ground floor flat in Edinburgh, setting fire to the rest of the property. A passing motorist noticed the smoke and flames, stopped, and was told by a neighbour that there was a person in the flat. He forced an entry into the flat, searched for and found an (unconscious) occupant, and dragged her to safety. A senior fire officer who arrived at the scene said that, given the intensity of the blaze, it was unlikely that anyone could have survived it for long and that the motorist had put his life at great risk to effect the rescue.

Nomination from Lothian and Borders Police

Domestic fire (electrical fault)

A house in Weymouth caught fire late one winter's evening, trapping five children within. Three neighbours from next door came to the scene and one of them, a young man, forced an entry but was beaten back by smoke and by ground floor flames 6ft high. By dint of placing a ladder up to a bedroom window the three rescuers then acted in combination to evacuate the children down the ladder, assisted by the eldest of the occupants (aged 16). At one stage the young man entered the house via the ladder and found and brought to safety two younger children, one of whom was unconscious. All the rescued occupants were taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation, as was the young man. Each of the three rescuers received a Society award.

Nomination from Dorset Fire and Rescue Service