Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Firefighters recognise brave neighbours following explosion

Martin Andrews and Glen Ellis had never met before the moment they suddenly heard an explosion close to their homes on a Sunday morning last month.

Both neighbours leapt to their feet and headed outside to their gardens, where a number of other people had already gathered to find out what had happened.

R-L | Martin Andrews, Station Manager Dave Walpole, Glen Ellis

Martin (right) said: “At first we panicked because we thought our own roof had collapsed or something had hit the house. No-one had a clue what was going on.

“My wife’s family had seen the roof of the building in the garden behind ours go up and then slam back down… they assumed the wind had caught it, but it was nowhere near windy enough.”

Only then did they notice that the building had partially collapsed – and when another neighbour mentioned someone was still inside it, the pair knew they had to act.

“I was standing at the opposite fence to Martin,” Glen (right) said. “As soon as we realised there was someone in there, we both jumped over the fence to help without really thinking.

“Initially we couldn’t even see anyone and at that point we still didn’t know what happened, but we had to do something.”

Martin and Glen were met with a very serious situation: a lady in her seventies was indeed trapped beneath the wreckage – and gas was leaking close to where a small fire had started.

“While we were in there, you could hear a popping noise and I could actually see the flame,” Martin said. “When you see things like that you just think the worst, brace yourself for an explosion and just try to get out as quickly as possible.”

Demonstrating incredible teamwork and bravery, the pair helped the lady from the building moments before a second explosion occurred – causing the building to collapse completely and burst into flames.

Both men made sure the lady was cared for until paramedics arrived – and firefighters were stunned by their bravery.

Station Manager Dave Walpole (left), who presented both men with certificates to recognise their efforts, said: “I have absolutely no doubt that this incident could have been much more serious for the lady involved had Martin and Glen not acted the way they did.”

“To recognise that a complete stranger is in danger is one thing, but to then risk their own lives to help her without hesitation is genuinely humbling. They are both a credit to their communities.”

And… despite it all, neither man considers what they did to be anything out of the ordinary.

“I wouldn’t think of myself as a brave person, to be honest. Having said that, I did rescue a dog from a frozen lake once!” Glen laughed.

You can read more about the incident on our Incident Log here.

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