South Yorkshire Fire Service call handler describes how she helped man to safety from burning flat

Julia Tonks.
Julia Tonks.
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A fire service call handler has described the moment she helped a man to safety from his burning South Yorkshire flat.

Julia Tonks took a call from a man who said he was trapped in his Maltby flat after a blaze outside had spread to the property.

She gave fire survival guidance and helped the man get to balcony of his St Barbaras Close home, where firefighters were able to rescue him, during the incident on Friday, February 2..

Mrs Tonks, 46, of Swinton, said: "I took the call at around 7.30pm and the caller was reporting a fire outside had encroached into the building and while talking to the caller I was able to take information which was passed on to the crews who were attending.

"I advised the caller to get as far away as possible from the fire and to put cushions at the bottom of doors. He made his way onto the balcony."

Mrs Tonks, who has worked as a control room operator for 17 years, said a team of four dealt with call in South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service's control room.

"I took the call and was given fire survival guidance to the caller," she said.

"One of my colleagues passed the information from the call to the crews who attended, another passed it all on to officers and then there is the overseeing officer who overlooks it all."

A total of four people were rescued from the flats during the incident, which crews from Maltby, Rotherham, Edlington and Aston Park attended.

Mrs Tonks added: "You have to remain calm and be able to extract information from people because sometimes callers can be very panicky.

"You have to build up a rapport to make them feel safe and get them where there's fresh air and reassure them that crews are attending.

"It's always nice to know that people you've spoken to are safe and we often speak to the officers about how people are."