Fire crews ‘in­un­dated’ with calls as

Ma­jor in­ci­dent saw ev­ery­one come to­gether

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Earthquake: - By Vic­to­ria Ches­sum

Three fire­fight­ers have re­flected on the im­pact of the earth­quake and how the Folke­stone sta­tion was “in­un­dated” with emer­gency calls.

Rob Sher­wood, the sta­tion man­ager, said he was min­utes from com­ing off duty when the rum­ble shook his home in Grange Road, Cheri­ton.

He had been on-call the day be­fore­hand but headed to the Park Farm Road sta­tion where his men had al­ready got 50 yards along to nearby Pav­il­ion Road – one of the worst hit ar­eas.

Mr Sher­wood, who was 38 at the time, said: “I had been on duty from the pre­vi­ous morn­ing and was due to come off at 9am.

“I felt the shud­der and it was as if a lorry had hit the side of the ter­race houses where I was liv­ing in Grange Road.

“We were in­un­dated with calls, so it was clear that some­thing ma­jor had hap­pened.

“They [the crew] had been stopped 50 yards by the first per­son who flagged them down.”

The fire­fight­ers were told to visit ev­ery area within the vicin­ity of Black­bull Road to en­sure no one was trapped in their home.

The or­der of pri­or­ity was then given to those whose homes were un­sta­ble. This was helped by a fil­ter­ing of phone calls from the main of­fice.

Mr Sher­wood added: “We had three fire crews from the main sta­tion to work its way up to Black­bull Road and an­other crew from Can­ter­bury Road. Our ren­dezvous point was at the Black­bull Pub (now the Hun­gry Horse).”

Steve Ap­ple­ton, who lives in Can­ter­bury, said he felt the tremor and saw from the news that an earth­quake had struck.

Al­though he was based in Dart­ford as a sta­tion com­man­der, he was called to re­spond and ended up work­ing three shifts on the week­end in Folke­stone.

Mr Ap­ple­ton, who was 33 at the time, said: “Over the course of that week­end I vis­ited hun­dreds of prop­er­ties, but it was a case of re­as­sur­ing the oc­cu­pants and re­fer­ring them to trades­men.

“I could tell that com­mu­ni­ties had come to­gether, ev­ery­one was un­der­stand­ing.

“It was some­thing quite sig­nif­i­cant that had hap­pened but no one was de­mand­ing or say­ing ‘you must sort this out’, they knew we had to pri­ori­tise things.

“There was a calm ac­cep­tance but an aware­ness that this earth­quake was quite ex­cep­tional.

“The re­sponse that day was tremen­dous and the dif­fer­ent ser­vices linked up. Things were good but we are so much bet­ter placed now with joined up work­ing.”

The fire ser­vice spent weeks sorting peo­ple’s chim­neys out after­wards.

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