A veteran Padiham firefighter who was on the front line of the “three little angels” house blaze tragedy, has retired after more than 30 years’ service.
Jimmy Edwards (55) was among the brave fire crew which battled to save the lives of young Padiham sisters Hayley, Louise and Gemma Waddington who died in the Lancaster Drive fire 10 years ago.
Father-of-four Jimmy has been a stalwart of Padiham Fire Station since 1983 and has dealt with everything from blazes during disturbances in Burnley and huge moorland fires to rescuing a cow from a Hapton slurry tank.
But now the Liverpool-born firefighter, of Milton Street, is hanging up his fire helmet after a career keeping Padiham safe which has spanned four decades.
Grandad Jimmy said: “I have been to some very serious jobs like the ‘three little angels’ fire. I managed to pull two of the girls out but it was too late. That was really tragic. I can still see them now. I was there for Burnley riots. There were hundreds of people in the streets and we had to get through as the Duke of York pub was on fire. There were cars on fire everywhere. It was scary.
“But there is a good side. We went to a woman stuck in a toilet and sang to her when we were getting her out. She thought it was really funny.
“We have had good times and bad times. But Padiham has been a brilliant station to work at. I have enjoyed serving the town.”
Jimmy joined the fire service in 1983 after seeing an advert in the Express calling for retained firefighters in Padiham.
He said: “It was brilliant when I started. We were really busy – we were getting 80 call-outs a month, sometimes more. Now there are barely half a dozen which is a good thing as prevention with smoke alarms is kicking in. Things have got a lot safer.”
Jimmy said: “I would not have been able to do it without the support of my wife Pam and my sons.” He will continue caretaking at Whitegate Children’s Centre, doing a milk round and is becoming a foster carer.
Professional to the last, he urged people to get a free home fire safety check on 0800 169 1125.