Stately home blaze puts firefighters to the ultimate test

The recent devastating fire at the National Trust property Clandon Park in Surrey tested firefighters – and their kit – to the limit.

Clandon Park was one of the UK’s most complete examples of a Palladian mansion with an exquisite collection of 18th Century furniture, artworks, porcelain and textiles.

Having ensured that everyone was safely evacuated, firefighters then had the task of rescuing and preserving as many of the home’s prized possessions as they possibly could.

This even included cutting treasured canvasses from their frames and passing them down a human chain to safety.

The blaze reminded us all that anything can catch fire and the older and more valuable some things are, the more susceptible they can be to fire.

Firefighters, such as those from Surrey Fire Service, demonstrate time and again their willingness to put their own lives on the line, giving little thought to their own mortality.

In the case of Clandon Park, the firefighters concerned went beyond the call of duty by remaining inside the property to salvage as many items as they could, after all risk to human life had been eliminated.

In so doing, they faced the ultimate test of fire, flame, smoke and enclosed spaces. It is possible that, for some firefighters, this was their first experience of a serious fire, given the continuing drop in the number of fires recorded.

This, itself, demonstrates that the comprehensive and ongoing training undertaken by firefighters is of the highest standard.

Incidents of this nature – thankfully, few and far between in the UK – also remind us how important it is that the kit worn by our firefighters is subject to the most rigorous of international standards, an area in which Hainsworth plays a central role, sitting on a number of key standards committees in Europe and around the world.