devon medalsThe first fire crews to respond to a fatal M5 crash in November 2011 have been presented with a brand new medal from Devon & Somerset FRS for "exceptional actions in the face of extreme circumstances".

DSFRS unveiled the new medal at an awards ceremony, sponsored by Norbord Ltd, at Service Headquarters in Exeter last week [31 July]

It is the first time in its history that the Service has minted its own medal, known as the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service Medal, and reflects the significance of the recipients’ actions on the night of 4 November.

The awards were presented by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Sir Eric Dancer JP, and Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Lady Gass JP.

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the people who died and were seriously injured that night. It is also important to recognise the actions of our own firefighters who were confronted by a large scale incident with multiple vehicles on fire and several people severely trapped.

“They battled selflessly to try to save those trapped and injured, with some individuals taking great personal risk in doing so. The medals recognise their exceptional bravery and we will not forget the support given by family, friends and colleagues following this traumatic incident.”

Further reading: Stronger, more stable and more influential - Lee Howell guest column

The recipients were members of the initial two crews that attended the incident, Taunton Blue Watch and Taunton Retained. Chief Fire Officer’s Commendations were also presented at the awards ceremony, to other firefighters who attended the M5 crash and to those that dealt with other life-threatening incidents.

Firefighters and support staff who were involved in the major flooding incidents on the Somerset Levels and at Dawlish were also awarded Chief Fire Officer’s Letters of Commendation.

Long service and good conduct medals were awarded to firefighters and support staff who had completed at least 20 years’ service with good conduct.