23rd July 2015, the first day of the school holidays. It started much like any other day. After lunch, I put the dishwasher on and then I took my children to the local park. A little later on, as we were on our way home, I noticed lots of missed calls from my husband. I phoned him back and he told me that there would be a fire engine at our house, as there had been a small fire.
The children and I got home to find the St Albans White Watch crew at the house waiting for us. The dishwasher had caught fire. Luckily, our neighbours had heard the smoke alarms and seen the smoke so they called the fire brigade.
Although the flames had been limited to the kitchen, the entire house was damaged by smoke. The heat still in the kitchen was incredible. The smell was horrendous, it caught the back of my throat and made my eyes water. Most of downstairs was completely blackened by soot. I could see marks on the walls where the firefighters had had to feel their way through the house.
I cannot begin to imagine how terrifying it must be, finding your way through an unfamiliar building completely filled with smoke and intense heat.
I will always remember how calm and reassuring the fire officer was, explaining to me what had happened and what they had done. I remember him giving me a hug when I broke down in tears, telling me that the damage was just cosmetic and could easily be fixed. I remember going back outside where the rest of the crew were still waiting. I remember thanking them over and over again, and feeling that it just wasn’t enough. I also remember how humble they were, telling me that they had ‘just been doing their job’.
We were very lucky. Although our house was wrecked by smoke, there was no structural damage. We had to live elsewhere for 6 months whilst the house was refurbished, but things could have been so much worse. I will be forever grateful to St Albans White Watch for ‘just doing their job’.
Their bravery saved my house. The men and women who came to our house that day are heroes.
So, fast forward a year or so, and I would like to do something in return, something to thank them and all other firefighters for the incredible job that they do for all of us. This is why I will be running the London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April, for The Fire Fighters Charity.
You can support Sarah’s fundraising here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Sarah-Taylor177