Thanks for firefighter who saved 95-year-old from blaze

95 year old Beatrice McDermott is reunited with firefighter Ian Birks, who saved her life last month.
95 year old Beatrice McDermott is reunited with firefighter Ian Birks, who saved her life last month.
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Plucky pensioner Beatrice McDermott, 95, plants a smacker on the face of heroic firefighter Ian Birks after he saved her life.

Miss McDermott fled her home in Poulton Road, Blackpool, when a fire erupted – but went back in to turn off her fire and became overwhelmed by smoke and was trapped.

But quick thinking fireman Ian Birks raced into the house without his breathing apparatus on, picked her up and carried her to safety.

Today, the beaming pensioner praised the fire service, and said: “They’re very brave, very heroic and very handsome!”

Miss McDermott was preparing a meal in her home on Poulton Road, Blackpool, when the flames in the kitchen quickly spread to polystyrene tiles in the ceiling.

Miss McDermott said: “I was getting my dinner ready and had a funny feeling that something was wrong. When I looked in the kitchen the floor was on fire.

“The tiles were falling to the floor and I thought it was a bit too big for me to put out so I dialled 999. I wasn’t scared but I went out then came back in again because my fire was still on in the living room and I didn’t want an explosion.”

The pensioner, who has lived in the house since she was 17, added: “I was trying not to breathe but there was smoke everywhere and it was a lot worse.”

The burning polystyrene created toxic hydrogen cyanide.

Firefighter Birks, 48, said: “Putting on breathing apparatus takes 20 to 30 seconds in a rush and I knew if I could get in there along the 15 to 20ft hallway and get to her, the outcome was going to be a positive one instead of a bad one. She’s been lucky.

“Under the circumstances I don’t think she realised how it could’ve gone very wrong.

“Being stood in the smoke could’ve had a bad effect on her.

“She’s very brave to go in and turn the fire off but if she had breathed in the smoke, the toxicity was horrendous and nobody would’ve been able to stand up for long in that smoke.”

Miss McDermott was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where she spent three days after the incident, which happened on April 12, being treated for smoke inhalation.

She is now recovering at a respite centre on Mansfield Road, Bispham, while her home is repaired. She added: “I’m enjoying my time here but I want to go home.”

Firefighter Birks added: “We go to fires and old people are sometimes very reluctant to phone us because they think we have bigger things to deal with rather than their cooker being on fire.

“I’m glad she did what she did and called us and thank goodness she is here to tell the tale.”

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