A team of volunteers are helping to ease the pain when families face the tragedy of a house fire.
The 14-strong team that make up Hertfordshire fire service’s volunteer support team have been on call around the clock since being launched in February.
And the first two call outs they’ve been to have been to homes in Hemel Hempstead – a kitchen fire in Highfield Lane and a bedroom blaze started by a candle in Montgomery Avenue.
After the firefighters have tackled the flames they swoop in to help with the clean up operation.
Roy Aldwin, who overseas the project, said: “We saw a scheme in the north of the country and senior managers within the fire service thought it was a very good idea, as did I.
“We wanted to run a similar scheme here.
“There is only one other service doing this nationally.”
Among the county’s volunteers is retired firefighter, 66-year-old Mike West, of Kings Langley, and college student 19-year-old Matt Barnes, from Warners End.
Mike said: “Being an ex-fireman it was really up my street because it is nice to go out and help people in need.”
Matt, who is studying plastering at West Herts College has been volunteering with the fire service for around four years under the service’s general volunteering scheme.
He was part of the team that helped clear up following a chip pan fire at an elderly man’s home in Highfield Lane, Hemel Hempstead.
Matt said: “The family were pleased that we were there to help, they were grateful.
“They made the comment that they didn’t know where they were going to start, so it was good to give them a head start.”
Roy added: “The friends and family that were there were so appreciative.
“They just couldn’t believe that we would turn up on a cold and windy evening.
“It was an amazing feeling at the end of the evening, even for me, an old hardened public servant.”
Hemel Hempstead fire station commander Bob Jackson said: “They just make the whole situation less traumatic for the householders.
“For more it is another resource to complement what the rescue crews are doing.”
General volunteers with the service attend a four-day training course and those joining the clean up support team complete a further two-days of training.
They can also dish out advice, carry out home fire safety checks, install smoke alarms, do bicycle patrols, man information stalls and attend school fetes and other public events.
There’s lots of volunteer opportunities with the fire service, to find out more call Roy on 07920 783687, email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow the ‘Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service & Trading Standards Volunteer Scheme’ page on Facebook or click here