WISBECH: Fire chief 'embarassed' after colleagues called to fire at partner's home
EXCLUSIVE By JOHN ELWORTHY OFF duty fire chief Philip Pilbeam admitted to being a little embarrassed after colleagues were called to a blaze at his partner s home as he tucked into Sunday lunch at a Wisbech restaurant. The fire destroyed the family s ga
By JOHN ELWORTHY
OFF duty fire chief Philip Pilbeam admitted to being "a little embarrassed" after colleagues were called to a blaze at his partner's home as he tucked into Sunday lunch at a Wisbech restaurant.
The fire destroyed the family's garage containing Mr Pilbeam's gleaming year-old Vauxhall Zafira, four bicycles, camping equipment and a trailer tent.
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Mr Pilbeam, 43, a watch manager at Wisbech Fire Station, believes the blaze may have started by an electrical fault in a charger his partner had just used on a child's scooter.
She turned the charger on just as he and his family left the house in Queen's Road, Wisbech, on Sunday for lunch at The Case but within 15 minutes of sitting down to eat a neighbour phoned to alert him to the blaze.
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"I ran home and found fire engines outside the house," said Mr Pilbeam who arrived to discover his fellow watch manager Matthew Murdoch on the scene with two fire crews from Wisbech and another from Outwell on his doorstep.
"I took a bit of ribbing from my mates but it just goes to show it can happen to anyone," said Mr Pilbeam. "There were smoke detectors throughout the house but none in the garage, that's what we advise. We had taken all possible precautions- it was just one of those things. Luckily it's all replaceable."
Mr Pilbeam said investigators were still probing the cause of the blaze and they could not rule out an electrical fault.
"My partner's grandfather had been charging the scooter on a regular basis without any trouble whatsoever," he said. "It was the first time we charged it at our home."
He added: "Of course I'm a little embarrassed but at the end of the day it has given me some extra empathy with fire victims who I meet on a daily basis."
"I hope others will learn from this and realise that you can never fully protect your home from fire. This is why smoke alarms are so important, and why it is such a good idea to have a planned escape route."
To find out more about how to keep their home safe from fire, and what to do if a fire occurs, contact your local fire station, or dial 01480 444550 to book in for a free home fire safety check.
This is where a fire service personnel will visit your home, offer advice and even fit a free smoke alarm where needed.
Alternatively you can visit the new Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service website on www.cambsfire.gov.uk