South Yorkshire blaze rescue hero a star

Tony Whitehouse has been awarded with the Chief Fire Officer's Commendation for his bravery  (w120726-2f)
Tony Whitehouse has been awarded with the Chief Fire Officer's Commendation for his bravery (w120726-2f)
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A SELFLESS hero who rescued an elderly couple from their burning flat in South Yorkshire has been rewarded for his bravery - by being chosen as the star winner at a fire service awards ceremony.

Plucky Tony Whitehouse, aged 33, from Dinnington, spotting smoke billowing from the kitchen window of the pensioners’ flat and forced his way in.

He led the terrified woman to safety, before returning to the flat to rescue her husband.

He was named joint winner of the Public Act of Bravery Award at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s annual prize giving ceremony, which recognises staff and members of the public.

And despite risking his own life in the blaze, Tony said he would rescue someone in peril again in a heartbeat.

“I would do the same thing again if faced with that situation,” he said.

“You just act on adrenaline.”

Tony and the couple’s next-door neighbour Fred Geffin put the flames out using a garden hose, and Tony’s brother Stefan gave first aid to the injured man.

The incident happened on Aymer Drive, Thurcroft, Rotherham.

Tony was also handed a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation - the highest award a member of the public can be given.

Speaking about the incident in April, he said: “I was going home after visiting my parents’ house.

“I forced the porch in and helped the woman out first. I couldn’t see anything because it was thick with smoke, so I had to follow her voice.

“I went back in for the old man and got him out.”

He added: “It was just hectic, just crazy. I’d just got the man out and all the emergency services arrived.”

Kenneth Jollens, from Bentley, Doncaster, was also given a bravery award for pulling a man to safety from a fire at his home on Rosedale Road in August.

Jamie Courtney, SYFR chief fire officer, said: “Such potentially dangerous rescues are usually dealt with by professional fire crews, but had it not been for Tony and Kenneth’s swift and decisive actions in the very early stages of these fires, the incidents could have been a great deal more serious.

“I would like to congratulate all our award winners and nominees. 
“This event was a wonderful way to recognise the tireless efforts of so many individuals and organisations who work so hard to make South Yorkshire a safe place.”

Another winner was control room operator Liam Booth, who gave life-saving advice over the phone to 23-year-old Sinead Bowden, who was trapped in her home in Crookes by a fire in April.

Sinead, who dialled 999 from her smoke-filled bedroom, said: “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Liam. How can you say thank you enough times to someone who has saved your life?”

Seven members of fire service staff were also awarded long service and good conduct medals for completing 20 years’ service.

The winners were: Sara Crookes, Joshua Fairhurst, Fire and Emergency Support Service, Amanda Thompson, Ian Foster, Kev Ronan, Elm Lane Green Watch, Doncaster White Watch, Health, Safety and Assurance team, Wayne Robinson, Lee Jones, Diane Malpass, The Get Real Team, Lakeside Village, Lisa Casey, ASDA supermarket, Specialist Midwives Team, NHS Barnsley and Rossington Youth Centre.