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Honour for heroes who helped contain Nottingham station blaze

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Emergency crews from BTP and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue have had their names cast on two nameplates on an East Midlands Trains’ (EMT) HST powercar in recognition of their brave work to contain the Nottingham station fire.

On January 12, around 60 fire fighters and 10 appliances fought to extinguish a fire which started in a toilet and caused significant damage to the station’s southern concourse, which is yet to re-open. The fire is being investigated by BTP as suspected arson.

In honour of the two organisation’s efforts – and to say thanks to Nottinghamshire Police, Nottingham City Council, the Rapid Relief Team, East Midlands Ambulance Service, Network Rail and EMT colleagues – EMT managing director Jake Kelly led the praise for the emergency services and unveiled two plaques.

“What a contrast it is to four weeks ago” said Jake, reflecting on what he described as both one of the worst days of his career but also one of the best because of how the community, colleagues and emergency services pulled together in the face of adversity.

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One plaque is named after BTP Nottingham and one after Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue. They have been fitted to powercar 43467 – which is understood to be the only one in the country to have two nameplates.

The HST is one of six ex-Grand Central powercars and “a number of carriages” EMT has acquired from Angel Trains ahead of the May timetable change.

Kelly added: “It was an absolutely shocking day. Every ten minutes I was getting a phone call to update me and it was getting worse and worse.

“I knew very quickly that everyone was safe but nevertheless so much effort has been put into this station to make it the place we are proud of over the last few years. In many respects it was heart-breaking.

“But then that quickly turned into a sense of pride because of all the people that came together to make sure that everyone was safe, to make sure that we could get the fire out quickly and to make sure that we could reopen the station less than 12 hours after the fire went out. It was brilliant, I was very proud of that. It was 24 hours of extreme emotion.”

EMT and Network Rail are continuing to work with contractors to determine the scope and timescales involved in re-opening the southern concourse.

East Midlands Trains staff at Nottingham acted quickly to evacuate passengers when a fire broke out at the station last month.

General manager Sarah Turner, who was boarding a train to London at the station on the morning of the blaze, praised the professionalism of her colleagues and members of the emergency services.

Staff began evacuating passengers from the station at around 6.30 on 12 January.

Emergency services were quickly on the scene and, at its height, 60 firefighters were tackling the fire.

The fire started in the station’s public toilets and the police investigation is ongoing.

Although there was some significant damage to the station’s new southern concourse, no one was hurt and the majority of the Grade two-listed station escaped unscathed, including heritage features that were carefully restored as part of a major refurbishment programme a few years ago.

The station resumed with a near normal service just 48 hours later.

A week on from the fire, IT technicians restored comms equipment damaged by the fire, including the equipment which runs the passenger information screens.

East Midlands Trains is currently planning how it is going to deliver the main repair work.

Since the fire, staff from across the business have been volunteering to help. Sarah said she “couldn’t praise the staff enough” for their actions during what was a very challenging morning.

Station staff at Nottingham carry out fire alarm tests every week and conduct fire drills on a weekly basis. The operator’s emergency procedures had also just been reviewed.

I had a follow-up meeting with the fire service and they praised our service delivery team, our front line team, for the efficiency with which they evacuated the station,” said Sarah.

She added: “It is quite an emotional thing for them but how they’ve responded is fantastic… All of our team have really pulled together.”

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