Off-duty firefighter praised for saving life of 4-year-old trapped in Northfield house

  • Mark Gough reports

West Midlands Fire Service has praised the "swift and selfless" actions of an off-duty firefighter who saved the life of a young child trapped in a severe house fire in Birmingham. 

On Thursday 18 March, following reports of an "orange glow" coming from a house on Farren Road, in Northfield, Firefighter Russ Jones rushed over to help.

Hearing screams and recognising the severity of the fire on the first floor, Firefighter Russ Jones concluded the young boy must be on the ground floor, so started looking through the windows to locate him.  

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After spotting a curtain moving in the front room, he looked closer to see the boy lying on the floor by the front room window. Smashing the window with a rock, Russ then quickly removed some of the glass before he leaned in and pulled the child to safety. 

Firefighter Jones’s eight colleagues from Northfield Fire Station, five firefighters from Kings Norton and another five from Woodgate Valley attended the scene minutes later. Sixteen breathing apparatus and three hose reel jets were used to tackle the large fire which had broken out upstairs. 

When the fire was eventually put out, it left the house in a devastating state. 10 firefighters tackled the blaze to get it under control. Credit: Kings Norton Fire Station, West Midlands Fire Service

Russ Jones, who has been a firefighter for West Midlands Fire Service for the last 24 years, said "as soon as I saw the fire and was told a young child missing in the property, I had to do something."

The fire was too intense upstairs and because I could hear the screams I knew the boy had to be on the ground floor. Without my firefighting kit there it was too dangerous for me to enter the property, so I had to find a way of trying to locate the boy and rescue him. I’m just so grateful I did and that he is ok.  

 I did what any of my colleagues would have done in the same situation. I’m a dad myself, so I’m just so grateful I managed to locate the boy and get them out of the property.

Russ Jones, Firefighter

The boy was treated for minor injuries by West Midlands Ambulance colleagues and then transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital. Fire Investigators who attended the scene confirmed the fire was accidental. 

The swift and selfless actions of Firefighter Jones represent the very best of West Midlands Fire Service. We’re very proud of Russ for saving the young boy’s life, had he not acted so quickly and professionally, this incident may have ended in tragedy.

Marc Hudson, Group Commander at West Midlands Fire Service