Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Chief Fire Officer Commendation awarded to Sonnie for saving neighbour's life

A Maldon man has been recognised for his actions after saving his neighbour's life.  

On Monday evening Essex County Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive Jo Turton presented Sonnie Harrison with a commendation for his brave actions at Maldon Fire Station.

The incident took place in April this year when Sonnie Harrison’s son came running into their ground floor flat, raising the alarm that their neighbour was in danger and was on the roof of their third-floor building. 

Sonnie immediately ran out of his flat to see his neighbour perched on the guttering of the roof. 

Sonnie said: “The woman was in a really dangerous place, what with being up so high and with her weight on the plastic guttering, I knew that wouldn’t hold her for long. 

“My first thought was to run over to my work van, and I grabbed my ladders in an attempt to reach the woman as quickly as I could, I managed to pitch them up to the third floor and the only way I could get to her was by standing on the top step of the ladders.   

“Once I was up there, I held on to the woman’s feet with my hands and took her weight - so I could stop her from falling - until the firefighters arrived to help out.” 

Presenting Sonnie with a special commendation to acknowledge his brave actions,  
Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive Jo Turton said: “The actions that Sonnie took that night to help keep his neighbour safe and save her life is truly incredible.  Sonnie put his own life before others, and his quick-thinking actions by pitching his work ladders to reach her was a selfless act of kindness. 

“The Chief Fire Officer Commendation recognises the actions of those in our communities and our staff who go above and beyond to help other people in life threatening situations, and I am truly honoured to present the prestigious and well-deserved award to Sonnie.” 

Sonnie added: “I am really honoured to receive the Chief Fire Officer Commendation, it’s something I never ever expected. I’m no hero, I just did what any human being would do to help someone who was in danger.” 

Watch Manager Martin Cable from Maldon Fire Station said: “The actions of Sonnie where amazing, he had been standing up on the top of the ladders for a considerable amount of time helping to keep the woman safe, reassuring her and stop her from falling. He stayed up the ladder reassuring the woman until she was brought to safety by the fire service using the aerial ladder platform.  

“His actions that evening are commendable, not everyone would have helped out in the way Sonnie did.”  

Maldon Fire Station is crewed by on-call firefighters - people who live or work within five minutes of the fire station and are paid to attend emergency calls. If you’re interested in joining the crew, or any on-call fire station in Essex, visit  

Site by Pingala Media