Fire­fight­ing heroes

Fol­low­ing the Gren­fell Tower blaze, fire­fighter Tami re­veals why she risks her life to save oth­ers

TV Times - - My Tv Week - Sean Mar­land

NEW Doc­u­men­tary In­side the Lon­don Fire Brigade thurs­day / ITV / 9.00Pm

In the early hours of 14 June, a huge fire started on the fourth floor of Gren­fell Tower in west Lon­don and within min­utes the 24-storey block was ablaze.

As morn­ing broke, a stunned na­tion woke up to shock­ing im­ages of the worst fire Bri­tain had seen for decades.

At least 80 peo­ple were killed in the in­ferno, yet thanks to the brav­ery of more than 200 fire­fight­ers from Lon­don’s Fire Brigade, po­lice es­ti­mate that around 250 res­i­dents es­caped with their lives.

In ITV’S new three-part se­ries,

In­side the Lon­don Fire Brigade, which was filmed over the course of a year, heroic fire­fight­ers who risked their lives on that fate­ful night talk about the hor­rors they wit­nessed for the first time.

‘2017 has been a shock­ing year for in­ci­dents in Lon­don, none more so than the Gren­fell Tower fire,’ says Hack­ney’s Bor­ough Com­man­der, Steve, who was at the scene. ‘That’s brought the Lon­don Fire Brigade back into the public con­scious­ness, not un­like it was when I joined, with things like the Kings Cross fire and the Clapham rail crash.’

Al­though fires like Gren­fell are rare, the Lon­don Fire Brigade deals with around 20,000 blazes ev­ery year. Here, Tami, one of the brigade’s 300 women fire­fight­ers, shares her ex­pe­ri­ence of life on the front­line…

Why did you be­come a fire­fighter? It’s some­thing I al­ways wanted to do all through school – join the po­lice or fire ser­vice. It ap­pealed to me more than any­thing else. I was quite sporty at school and liked be­ing out­doors, so the phys­i­cal side ap­pealed to me as well as help­ing peo­ple.

What would you say are the most chal­leng­ing parts of the role? Work­ing with men – not re­ally! It’s hard to an­swer, be­cause I love all parts of it. Some of the things you see some­times, the not so nice things, can be hard to deal with. and the most en­joy­able parts? Help­ing peo­ple – when you feel like you’ve done some­thing good that has changed some­one’s life and helped in a good way. When you in­ter­act with some­one in a des­per­ate state or in a time of need and you can show them com­pas­sion and help, that’s when you get the most out of it.

How does be­ing a fire­fighter im­pact on your fam­ily life?

In some re­spects it’s good be­cause we get four days off which en­ables me to spend time with my son, but equally my hus­band is a fire­fighter, so we don’t get to see much of each other. I do miss things like sports days and Christ­mases, but you can’t work round the job with things like that. How do you deal with some of the more dis­tress­ing things you see? We have got a bit of a dark sense of hu­mour, that’s how we deal with it. But some things can’t be laughed at. They’re too sen­si­tive. It’s about be­ing to­gether and talk­ing about it.

Most peo­ple run from dan­ger, but you run to­wards it. Have you ever gen­uinely felt in fear of your life? One or two times. Run­ning into the sit­u­a­tion, adrenalin takes over, but there been a cou­ple of times when I thought things could go badly and I might not come out.

At your ser­vice: Fire­fighter Tami

Deadly fire: Gren­fell Tower

on the front­line: The cap­i­tal’s fire­fight­ers

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