Fire crews ‘inundated’ with calls as
Major incident saw everyone come together
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.