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Thursday 19 October 2017

Off-duty trainee firefighter battled house blaze to save man's life

The scene of the fire (Inset: George Toma)
The scene of the fire (Inset: George Toma)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

An off-duty trainee firefighter has been hailed a hero after he rescued a man from a house fire, while on his way to work.

George Toma was travelling to work yesterday morning when he noticed smoke coming from the roof of a house on the main street in Ballywalter, Co Down.

The trainee firefighter stopped his car and took a fire extinguisher from his boot before calling the emergency number and running into the property.

He manouvered his way through the heavy smoke-logged house before he discovered a man who was unconscious in an upstairs bedroom.

He managed to bring the man downstairs and outside with the help of two neighbours.

They were then met by firefighters from the local Ballywalter Fire Station.

The scene on the main street, Ballywalter, Co Down (Photo: NIFRS)
The scene on the main street, Ballywalter, Co Down (Photo: NIFRS)

The injured man, aged in his fifties, was treated outside with oxygen therapy until the ambulance arrived and he was brought to hospital.

A chief in the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said Toma "embodies what it's all about".

George Toma
George Toma

"I would like to commend the quick thinking, bravery and decisiveness shown by George this morning. His actions potentially saved a life today," Lloyd Crawford, Southern Area Commander, said.

“He embodies what working for NIFRS is all about.

"George has all the attributes we look for in a retained firefighter and will be an asset to the  local community, keeping them safe from a range of emergencies once his training is complete.  

“I would also like to pay tribute to the actions of the neighbours in supporting George and also to the firefighters who attended the incident and prevented the fire from spreading to neighbouring properties.” 

Three fire brigades as well as a platform ladder attended the scene after the call was received at approximately 7.03am.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus dealt with what was described as a 'significant fire' in the roof of the mid-terraced house and provided oxygen therapy to the casualty. 

The incident was dealt with at 11.20am.  The cause of the fire is being treated as accidental.

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