PORTADOWN’S firefighters have warned householders to fit - and regularly check - fire alarms after they saved the life of a man from a smoke-filled flat at Portadown’s Thomas Street in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Little damage was done by the fire, but it belched out smoke, and only the prompt actions of the firemen, who carried him out into the street, saved the foreign national from choking to death.
Another man in the first-floor flat - owned by Upper Bann MP David Simpson - managed to escape the building out into Thomas Street before the fire service arrived. He was full of praise for the courage of the crew who entered the building wearing breathing apparatus to lead the other man, who had been asleep, to safety.
Ladislav Csaladi and Michael Biacousky - both Slovaks - were alerted by another resident of the five-flats building. She smelt smoke at around 5.20am, but Michael Biacousky had failed to stir from his sleep by the time the firefighters arrived. Two appliances rushed to the scene, which is just about 400 yards from the town’s fire station.
Four firemen entered the flat, and the lead man - who didn’t want his name published - said, “It’s what we’re trained for. We did save the man’s life, but that’s the sort of thing we do. It’s our job.” Both men were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation by ambulance personnel, and it was not necessary to take them to hospital
The fireman added, “A neighbour in the adjacent flat smelt the smoke and raised the alarm. We would like to commend the quick thinking and good citizenship of this neighbour. We would also like to remind everyone of the importance of a working smoke alarm. Ensure you have one fitted on every floor of your home and test it once a week to make sure it is working.”
Ladislav Csaladi - in broken English - indicated he was full of praise for the courage of the firefighters. He said that they had arrived very quickly and had found his friend and led him to safety. “We’re very happy that we got out,” he added. Little damage was done to the kitchen, with the fire and rescue service describing it as “a small accidental fire”. The two appliances arrived at around 5.30 and they left the scene at around 6am.
Ladislav, who works in a meat plant, went to work as usual after the incident, but his friend had left the flat. “I don’t know if he’s coming back,” he said. “He is very lucky. I don’t know where he has gone.”
Later in the morning, Mr Simpson was at work in the DUP constituency office next door - which he also owns - but was unaware of the fire. He said yesterday, “I was unaware of anything at the premises until the following morning. There was a minor incident involving smoke damage but no actual fire broke out. I do, though, want to praise the swift efforts of firefighters who responded so quickly.”