Smoke detectorsA terrifying story of how a mother of three and her children escaped a ferocious house fire due to a smoke alarm waking them in time has helped Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service get its message across regarding the importance of smoke alarms.

The story was picked up by media across the region in Midlands TV news, in the Shropshire Star evening newspaper, on BBC Radio Shropshire and on news websites.

The story ran in support of Shropshire FRS’s ‘Tick, Tock Test’ campaign, which was urging people to test their fire alarms when they changed their clocks last weekend.

The Fitzimmons’ story

The campaign focused on the story of Vikki Fitzimmons and her children. They were all soundly asleep in the four bedroomed semi-detached in Brandsfarm Way, Randlay, when they were woken by the sound of the smoke alarm after an accidental fire had started upstairs in the airing cupboard.

“I hadn't slept well for three days as we had just moved into the house and if it wasn't for the smoke alarm going off I am sure that me and my three children would all have died,” said Ms Fitzimmons, a former nursery teacher.

She quickly got all the children out of their bedrooms before she and eldest son Joshua (12) went to tackle what they first thought was a small fire. But the flames rapidly spread into the loft and neighbours arrived to help when they saw thick black smoke pouring out of the roof.

“I thought we had put the fire out but it got between the plasterboard walls and spread into the loft. My neighbour shouted for us to get out so I scooped up the children and got them out. Flames were quickly at the first floor landing and my neighbour got me out,” she said.

Within minutes of the smoke alarm going off, bedroom windows "popped" as the upstairs was engulfed in flames.

Firefighters arrived to put out the fire and rescue as much of the family's belongings as they could. Community fire safety officer Rabinder Dhami praised the landlord of the property for fitting two wired smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide monitor inside the rented property.

The campaign

Following the launch of the campaign, Martin TImmis, an Area Manager for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, appeared on Central TV to talk about the importance of every home having smoke alarms on each floor of a home, while firefighter Stuart Ruston told their reporter about the ferocity of the fire when they arrived on the scene within a couple of minutes of receiving the emergency call.