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Coroner praises bravery of fire heroes.

Byline: Ross McCarthy

City coroner Aidan Cotter has praised the bravery of two men who tried to save the life of an elderly neighbour who died in a house fire.

He also stressed the importance of smoke detectors following the blaze at the home of 76-year-old Carl Tufft in Croydon Road, Erdington.

He said: 'In my view the rescue attempts carried out by Roderick Hay and Darren Martin were very brave.

'It must have taken a huge amount of courage to go into a burning house where the smoke is so dense that people cannot see, bearing in mind that Mr Hay already had a disability of his own.'

In a statement, Mr Martin said on April 24 this year he was working on his car when he heard another neighbour banging on Mr Tufft's door. He could see smoke coming from Mr Tufft's home and rang the emergency services.

Mr Martin said he and Mr Hay, who suffers from asthma, both grabbed wet towels to cover their mouths and went into the house.

'They tried to get into the room where Mr Tufft was but could not see anything and were beaten back by the smoke and heat,' said the coroner.

Fire investigation officer Mark McCabe said he believed the fire was caused after Mr Tufft had tried to light a cigarette and the burning match had become trapped in his clothes. Pathologist Dr Henry Thompson said Mr Tufft had been in poor health for some time and was unable to move from his chair. He had died from a heart attack after his clothes caught fire.

In recording that Mr Tufft died as a result of an accident, the coroner said in this particular case a smoke detector would not have made any difference.

'But the public should understand it is much better to have a smoke detector than not to have one,' he said.

'It is also important everyone realises that if they have elderly relatives or neighbours that they can obtain smoke detectors for free by ringing the West Midlands Fire Service who deliver them.

'Over the years they have saved a very significant number of lives.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 2, 2002
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