Firefighters involved in Bilton shop explosion nominated for national award

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THE actions of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Green Watch, Fire Control, in handling an explosion at a block of shops and flats in Rugby in July, saw them nominated for the Spirit of Fire Awards – Fire Fighter of the Year 2012.

At the weekend Watch Commander Clare Cowley, Crew Commander Amanda Swinden, Firefighter Michelle Rulli and Firefighter Jo Goodman, attended the awards ceremony in London, along with Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Protection Cllr Richard Hobbs and Chief Fire Officer Graeme Smith.

As part of the weekend’s events, Firefighter Michelle Rulli and her husband Michael, also a Warwickshire firefighter, attended a reception at Downing Street, along with the other nominees, hosted by Government Minister Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Chief Fire Officer Graeme Smith said: “The evening was a great success and the ceremony was a very moving and emotional event to be involved with.”

Cllr Hobbs added: “It was mentioned during the evening how Fire Control staff are the ‘unseen heroes’ of the Fire Service who the public rarely get to hear about, which was nice to hear.”

The firefighters were nominated after being involved in an explosion at the All in One shop in Blackwood Avenue, Bilton which burst into flames earlier this year. Firefighters were called to not only deal with the blaze but to help rescue the tenants living above the shop in the flats.

Although they were nominated, the crew missed out on winning overall.

Watch Commander Clare Cowley said: “Although we didn’t win, we all agreed there were no losers, as all the nominees were winners to start with.”