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Cool operator is a life-saver

Reporter: ALEX CAREY
Date online: 12 May 2014

FIVE people trapped in their homes in an arson attack in Fitton Hill had their lives saved by the advice of a fire call operator.

Firefighters from Oldham and Hollins were called out to Fifield Close at 2.45am on Friday to deal with the blaze - which was deliberately started by two men who set alight a wheelie bin and a mattress pushed against a front door shared by two flats.

A Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) control operator received a call from Tony Gibbings, who was trapped in the upstairs flat of the building with his two friends, Gemma Foster and Robert Foster. His two neighbours were trapped in the downstairs flat.

The control operator alerted local fire crews and stayed on the phone to give Mr Gibbings life-saving advice for five minutes until firefighters got to them.

Kevin Talbot, Oldham Fire Service’s borough commander said the operator was able to give the victims advice on avoiding smoke inhalation and keeping safe, as well as keeping crews up-to-date with information as they sped to the fire.”

Alan Wild (41), who lives next door to the fire-flat, tried to tackle the fire by dragging the burning mattress away from the door and throwing buckets of water on the flames, but the flames were too fierce.

Det Insp Jason Byrne said: “This was a callous and reckless act which could have cost the lives of five people. I would appeal to anyone who believes they may have seen two people acting suspiciously to contact police.

“One wore a dark, two-toned jacket with grey trousers, the other a dark hooded top.”

Anyone with information can phone police on 0161 856 8927.


I know it is a job but I hope the control operator has been suitably rewarded for the excellent service given.


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