17 August 2012

Northamptonshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service has won a special recognition award at the first-ever BBC 999 Awards.

The BBC 999 Awards have been set up to honour the work of Britain's Emergency Services. The awards were hosted by Kirsty Young and Lenny Henry and broadcast on BBC 1 yesterday evening (Thursday 16th August).

The fire and rescue service received their award for a for a rescue operation carried out in March this year, when a hot air balloon became entangled amidst live power lines at Bozeat near Wellingborough.

The hot air balloon contained three people and was suspended 45ft above the ground. Following a lengthy procedure to switch off the electricity and once engineers had ensured that the 132 kv power lines and pylon were safe, a specialist line rescue team from the fire and rescue service were able to assist the balloon passengers into a harness and lower them safely to the ground.

Cabinet member for infrastructure and public protection Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage said: "It's great news that Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has been successful at the BBC 999 Awards. This is a real honour and a tribute to the hard work and dedication we see from all of our firefighters every day.

"This rescue was particularly challenging for everyone involved. The rescue team had to work closely with the power supply company, engineers, the police and ambulance services to make sure the three passengers were rescued safely. It was a complicated and lengthy process which ended successfully - this is truly a well-deserved award."

Chief fire officer Martyn Emberson said: "I am thrilled that Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has been successful in the first-ever BBC 999 Awards.

"Winning a special recognition award is testament to the commitment and excellence displayed by our firefighters and in particular the team involved in this complicated rescue operation.

"These types of incidents don't happen every day but thanks to a lot of hard work and thorough training, the rescue team ensured that all passengers on the balloon came back down to earth with nothing more than minor flash burns caused at the point of collision with the cables."

As part of the award, the mess area at the Mounts fire station received a secret makeover by the DIY SoS team. Firefighters based at the station were told the station was out-of-bounds for a day as part of business continuity exercise to test out procedures if a fire station became out of use. During the day, the mess area was transformed and the service thanks all those involved in the makeover.

The BBC 999 Awards are available to watch again on the BBC iPlayer until 23rd August 2012.