Heroic 12-Year-Old Rescues Family Thanks to Fire Alarm

Courtney, right, with her cousin Declan, left
Courtney, right, with her cousin Declan, left

A schoolgirl saved her family from a devastating blaze after their smoke detector alarm went off.

Courtney Ratcliffe, 12, led her four sisters into the garden before taking them to a neighbour’s house for safety when a fire ignited in their home on Finchley Avenue, Newton Heath.

Fire chiefs have praised the youngster’s heroic actions while the community and Northwards Housing staff have rallied to help the family, who lost all their belongings in the flames.

The blaze started when a television caught fire in one of the bedrooms. Courtney said: "The fire alarm was going off, my brother went to see why and he came running down the stairs and said there was a fire.

"I took my little sisters out the back and brought them around the front to a neighbour's house. It was just instinctive."

The alarm was fitted into the property by Northwards as part of the Decent Homes programme in 2008. Courtney and her siblings all escaped the fire unharmed along with their grandparents and cousin who were in the garden.

Courtney’s mum Sarah, who was having a driving lesson when the fire started, said: “I'm just so proud of what Courtney did. She got her sisters and just got out of there.

“The neighbours have all been really good. They've really rallied round – taken all my belongings in and others have given me a pram and clothes for the baby."

Within two hours of the emergency, our neighbourhood services team found the family temporary accommodation. We managed to secure a new bed for each family member (kindly donated by Manchester City Council’s Furniture Team) and our staff generously donated duvets, pillows, cushions and bedding sheets to help them sleep comfortably.

Northwards' director of neighbourhood services Mike Stevens said: "What Courtney did is amazing. It's frightening to think what could've happened if there hadn't been a working smoke alarm and if Courtney hadn't reacted in the way she did.”

We check the smoke alarms in our properties at least once every year, but you should get in the habit of testing each week by pressing the test button.

If you are a Northwards tenant and you suspect your smoke alarm is not working or is damaged, please contact us straightaway on 03000 123 123.

Did you know that firefighters carry out free Home Fire Risk Assessments and may be able to fit you with a free smoke alarm? Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have already fitted over 200,000 free smoke alarms in north Manchester. Call them on 0800 555 815 or book online to book an appointment.

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