Kent Fire & Rescue Service
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Kent Fire and Rescue Service awards ceremony

6 October 2017

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has recognised firefighters who have served across the county for twenty years, members of the public and KFRS staff whose bravery has saved lives, as well as KFRS volunteers.

The ceremony was held in Maidstone on 5 October 2017.

Ann Millington, Chief Executive of KFRS said at the ceremony: “This annual awards ceremony gives us the chance to mark the courage and hard work of extraordinary people. We are marking twenty years of dedicated service by firefighters, as well as highlighting the exceptional actions of members of the public and the wider KFRS family.”

Long Service Awards:

Her Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenant, Lord Condon QPM DL, with Vice Chairman of the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority, Mr Stuart Tranter, presented the Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct medals, which have the inscription ‘For Exemplary Fire Service’ to:

  • Lee Abel is currently is a Station Manager in West Group working in a busy area which includes Bluewater and the Dartford Crossing.

  • Nicholas Bate is a firefighter in Strood, but has previously worked in Canterbury and as a crew manager in Gillingham and Medway. 

  • Philip Bendall,who has served at several fire stations around the county and is currently part of the Urban Search and Rescue Team. 

  • Michael Blundred joined in 1996 and has worked at several stations including as a crew manager. He is currently a Project Officer and crew manager in New Romney. 

  • Andrew Bridger-Smart originally joined as a retained firefighter at Sheppey before becoming a whole time firefighter. He is now a Watch Manager on Sheppey.  

  • David Broughton was transferred temporarily to Sevenoaks station in May of 1998 as a temporary move and ended up staying just over 2 years. He was offered a permanent post at Tonbridge in July 2000 and has served there ever since. He represented Kent Fire and Rescue Service in the World Firefighter Games in Liverpool in September 2008 and Kent Fire and Rescue Service at National RTC Extrication Competitions throughout my stay time in Tonbridge.

  • Matthew Cardis a firefighter in Tenterden. He says his most satisfying job was being part of a two man BA team that managed to stop a fire spreading through properties in Tenterden High Street in November 2013.

  • Richard Cromarty joined retained in 1990 and later joined wholetime. He has worked at Larkfield, Ashford and is now a crew manager at Dartford.

  • Matthew Drury a taste for the fire service doing his Duke of Edinburgh Award. He enrolled as a junior firefighter and on his 18th birthday applied to be a retained firefighter. He has served at numerous stations and became a wholetime firefighter in 2012. He now works on Red Watch Maidstone. 

  • Adam Dudfield joined the service in 1987 as a cadet and is currently qualifying as a Crew Manager. During his long career he has attended a fire in the Channel Tunnel and the Folkestone earthquake. He lives in Aylesham.

  • David Escudier is currently Group Manager for South Kent.  As part of the marine operations team he was winched by Sea King Helicopter to tackle a fire on a ship six miles off Margate in 1998. He led the KFRS Drone project and played a key role in working with the ambulance service to develop our medical emergency response. His wife Nikki is a Watch Manager in Ramsgate.     

  • Angie Hester - after twenty years Angie still loves her job as a firefighter and a co-responder.  She has been married to husband Dave - also a firefighter - for 42 years.

  • Graham Knight’s first posting was to Folkestone, before transferring to Tunbridge Wells.

  • Jim Ledger joined in 1996 and has worked in Canterbury and Thames Side. He was a Station Manager in Training and is currently a manager in East Group.  

  • Martin Russel joined the fire service at the age of 25 and has been stationed at Dartford ever since.

  • Geoff Manser’s first two years of service were with blue watch Folkestone and he has served at Maidstone since 1999 on red watch.

  • Gary Miller is currently temporary Watch Manager in Margate as well as a Technical Rescue Technician.  He has worked in numerous stations including Dover, Thanet, Margate, and Strood. 

  • Kevin Mitton started his career working in the KFRS training centre, then moved to Canterbury for 6 years, before transferring to Strood were he has worked ever since. Kevin has previously received a KFRS commendation for rescuing 12 people from Gainsbourough Hpuse in Rochester. 

  • Robert Petitt joined after a career in the Royal Navy, in 1997 as a retained firefighter in Margate and became a wholetime firefighter in Thanet and then Margate.

Kent Medal: Steve Brett

The Kent Medal is awarded to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the Service and this year it went to a firefighter who has served for forty years as a front line firefighter - Steve Brett

Steve joined Kent Fire and Rescue Service (or Kent Fire Brigade as it was then) on 21 November 1977. He served initially in Tunbridge Well, before transferring to Maidstone whole time fire station before moving to Tonbridge where he remains until the present day.

During his long career Steve has been involved in some of the most significant incidents the county has seen including an incident when Steve rescued a Maidstone man who was buried in a trench under thick snow. Steve was also one of the firefighters on duty during the Great Storm of 1987 that battered the county, flattening trees and ripping tiles from roofs.

Today he still demonstrates the same enthusiasm and dedication to his work as when he first joined. In addition to his firefighting duties he has been treasurer of the Kent Fire Service National Benevolent Fund. 

Member of the public Chief Executive’s Certificate of Commendation: Matthew Crane - When fire broke out in a Borough Green home back in March, a man in his early 90’s was trapped inside. His front door was on fire, blocking his escape route and his home rapidly filling with smoke. Thankfully, Matthew Crane was returning home down the quiet country lane in a taxi, spotted the blaze and immediately rushed to help. He partially extinguished the fire using a garden hose, kicked down the front door and led the elderly man to safety and stayed with the man until firefighters arrived. Matthew is being congratulated for his brave, selfless actions that undoubtedly saved a life.

Members of the public Chief Executive’s Certificate of Commendation: Nick Joiner, Clare Millen and Roger King - Nick, Clare and Roger were on the M2 motorway in separate vehicles, when they saw a car leave the road, collide with a tree and roll down an embankment, landing on its side. Without hesitation, they all stopped and found the driver and her three year old trapped in the car which was on its side.  Roger rescued the little boy through the side window and passed him up the bank to Claire.  Roger and Nick then returned to the car – which was then alight – and managed to release and pull out the mother get her up the embankment just before the car burst into flames. 

Member of the public Chief Executive’s Certificate of Congratulation: Charlie Eastwood and Victor Jouanneau - Charlie and Victor are being congratulated for their actions at a road crash on Sandhurst Road, Tunbridge Wells in March. The brave pair jumped into action and pulled a woman to safety after seeing flames engulfing her car, which completely destroyed it.

Member of the public Chief Executive’s Certificate of Congratulation: Sam Cook – After hearing smoke alarms sounding in the corridor, Sam Cook went to investigate and found a neighbour’s door was blackened. He immediately phoned 999 and passed on vital information to KFRS’ Fire Control Team. Sam also alerted other residents to evacuate their homes and stayed on the phone keeping Fire Control updated. His quick-thinking and the information he provided was invaluable, saving precious time for the first firefighters on the scene.

Member of the public Chief Executive’s Certificate of Congratulation: Freya Lewis-Johns - 12-year-old Freya was in a car with her mother when they witnessed a road crash on the A21 about 4 miles outside of Tunbridge Wells. Freya rang 999 and stayed on the line, providing vital information while her mother, Jenny Lewis-Johns, a trained first aider provided first aid to the casualties until the emergency services arrived.

Ben Napthine on behalf the Rapid Response Team Chief Executive’s Certificate of Congratulation - a charitable arm of the Plymouth Brethren. This team provide welfare support to the public and emergency services. It has proved a great help at a number of large scale incidents with the public and emergency staff grateful for the refreshments and welfare they provide.

KFRS staff receiving the Chief Executive’s Certificate of Congratulation:

  • Margate crew represented by Steve Quincey Kevin Murphy were recognised for their part in the rescue of two men trapped on the rocks in the sea at Walpole Bay, Margate in May. With no time to spare they acted quickly to locate and rescue one man and helped a second out of danger and into the lifeboat. Without their selfless act of valour both men could quite easily have been washed into the sea and lost their lives.

  • Margate firefighter Kevin Murphy and Laura Walther - Kevin is also being recognised along with his partner Laura for their part in the rescue of a distressed young woman from a cliff edge.  Kevin was off duty and walking with Laura along the seafront in Ramsgate, when they saw that a woman had climbed over railings and was on a cliff edge in a distressed state. While Laura phoned 999, Kevin placed his legs through the railings, wrapping them around the young woman until support arrived.  His quick-thinking prevented the woman from jumping or falling down the cliff and they are both being congratulated for their actions.

  • KFRS Station Manager Rob Groombridge and his wife Heidi – Rob, who works in KFRS’ community safety team and his wife Heidi, a sister at William Harvey Hospital, were awarded for their efforts to support a couple following an incident they came upon while on their way home on New Year’s day

  • Faversham Crew Manager, Dan Packham – Dan’s actions at the scene of a serious, head on road crash involving a car and a lorry in Faversham, were as you would expect from all KFRS firefighters. However, it is the care and compassion shown to the casualty, since the crash that have made a huge difference. Dan was asked to make contact with the casualty afterwards so that he could piece his memory together of that day.  Dan maintained contact with him and was of great support in helping his recovery.

  • Chatham Crew Manager, Shaun Humphries – Bin fires may not seem serious but they tie up resources and can spread to properties, putting lives in danger. Shaun is being recognised for piecing vital clues together that led to Kent Police catching and charging a repeat arsonist, saving money and potentially lives and property.

  • Fire Control Operator Hannah Park – Hannah is being recognised for her sterling work in helping to keep an elderly resident safe, while awaiting rescue. She gave him vital fire survival guidance until he could be rescued. Her calm, supportive manner helped make a difference.

  • Charlie Smith - Charlie joined KFRS in 1981 serving as a firefighter and manager, and holds other specialist roles such as fire investigation.  In this year’s awards he is recognised for the important role he has played in developing and implementing community safety in Kent and Medway over the years.  He implemented a specialist team that provided vital fire safety advice to literally tens of thousands of vulnerable people in their own homes – including those who are sick, have mental illness or a disability.  Charlie has also been involved in work to promote the concept of dementia friends in the county, training hundreds of KFRS staff and others to help build a more dementia friendly community.

  • Also PC Darren Chapman - Darren works for Kent Police and is the first police officer to be seconded to the Road Safety Experience centre in Rochester.  The centre provides education for young drivers and other road users to help prevent deaths and injuries on Kent’s roads.  Darren has led on collaborative working with police colleagues and ben a dynamic member of the team.

Volunteer Awards:

KFRS’ volunteers are an integral part of the Service and their work is enormously respected and appreciated throughout the organisation. They do not carry out any operational fire safety duties, but contribute their time, energy and skills to undertake a wide range of unpaid community safety activities.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Anna-Lei Saunders

Volunteer of the Year Runner-up: Les Hawksfield

The Five Year Volunteer certificates:

  • Veronica Cruise

  • Eric Judge

  • Elaine Longmuir

  • Daniel O’Connor

  • Tracey McHugh

Photos from the ceremony

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