Off-duty firefighter helps rescue five people from fire in Chadwell Heath

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:12 17 May 2018

Station manager, Paul McClenaghan helped rescue five people from a burning building in Chadwell Heath.

Station manager, Paul McClenaghan helped rescue five people from a burning building in Chadwell Heath.


An off-duty firefighter rescued five people from a Chadwell Heath fire that is believed to have been caused by the unsafe disposal of cigarettes or matches.

Station manager Paul McClenaghan was visiting his mother nearby when he saw smoke in the High Road on Thursday, May 10 and decided to investigate.

“I could see a woman screaming from a window as her escape route was blocked,” he said.

“A fire had developed on the outside of the building but thick smoke was already billowing across an external staircase, preventing her from making a quick exit.”

Paul flagged down a builder’s van and told them to call the fire brigade. He also borrowed their ladder and went up to rescue the woman.

The fire at the Coopers Arms, also in the High Road, on Friday. Photo: John Babb. The fire at the Coopers Arms, also in the High Road, on Friday. Photo: John Babb.

Once he got her to safety, Paul went back to help another four people leave the building as smoke was starting to enter the flat above the pub.

The Lambeth fire station manager added: “I didn’t think about it, my firefighter training kicked in and I knew I had to get in there and get the people out. It was instinctive.

“I’m usually the one in charge of an incident so it’s been a while since I’ve gone into a property to do a rescue of this nature.

“For firefighters, helping people is what we do, I know it sounds cheesy, but we’re never off duty.”

All five people and Paul were treated for smoke inhalation by the London Ambulance Service.

On arrival, local crews were able to quickly extinguish the fire so only a small part of the ground and first floor flat of the property was damaged.

Al Perez, the London Fire Brigade’s deputy assistant commissioner for North East London, said: “I want to congratulate Paul for his swift action in helping these people in distress.

“Paul is an experienced firefighter and so I would remind the public that in the event of witnessing a fire, call 999 first so we can get there as soon as possible. Never attempt to rescue someone yourself.”

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