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