Shropshire firefighter nominated as England's bravest firefighter

A Shropshire firefighter has been nominated for a top national award as England's bravest firefighter.

Alex Howell, based at Telford fire station, is one of four firefighters put forward for the accolade for showing "outstanding courage" in rescuing two women in a fierce house fire.

He will take a bow along with other fire heroes in front of thousands of fans at tonight's Wembley stadium before England's friendly international with Switzerland.

Alex, 38, from Oswestry, along with colleague Kevin Williams who has also been nominated, were involved in the rescue of two women on answering an emergency call while serving as a firefighter with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

The firefighters were first at the scene at a fire in which smoke and flames were pouring out of the windows of a house. Parents of the two women had escaped with burns while their daughters were trapped inside a bedroom.

Alex's colleague Kevin brought out the first young woman and Alex, wearing breathing apparatus, climbed up a ladder to enter the burning bedroom where he found a semi conscious woman and carried her to safety.

"It was a team effort. The house was well alight and smoke was pouring out of the windows. I did a quick search with my hands and feet and managed to drag the woman out after finding her huddled in the bedroom. They were both very lucky," said Alex, who was brought up in Oswestry, attending Fitzalan School, before joining the fire service after a 12 year career in the RAF.

Alex, who has family in the Oswestry area, joined Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service last October.

The Spirit of Fire Awards, organised by the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund, is the UK Fire Services premier event recognising bravery and dedication in the Fire Services community.

The event is in its fourth year and last year featured appearances from a number of top celebrities including Michael Aspel, Caprice and Jilly Goolden. The Minister for Fire was present to thank the pride of the Fire Services and the Prime Minister gave a video address to congratulate the nominees, inviting some of the winners to visit Downing Street after the event.

This year's event will be held at Wembley Stadium on March 15 following on from tonight's welcome from the England fans. The special night will feature celebrities, Government ministers and Fire Service officials.

6th February, 2008