A FATHER-OF-ONE who rescued an elderly man from a burning flat will be the first person to receive a bravery award from the fire service.
When Brian Hayes, 44, saw flames through the broken window of a flat in Wirral where an elderly man lived, he did not hesitate to help.
It is the first time a Merseyside fire and rescue service bravery medal has been awarded.
Previously chief fire officers could only issue a commendation for heroic acts.
Mr Hayes, who has worked as buildings manager at The Cliff, in New Brighton, for a year, said: “I saw smoke near one of the blocks and went to investigate.
“There was glass on the floor and flames coming out of a kitchen window.
“I called 999 to tell the fire brigade the information they needed and reassured residents who had gathered nearby.
“I quickly made my way to the flat and knocked down the door. Flames had taken hold and it was unbearably hot.
“I had my jumper over my head which was soaked with cold water.
“After going into the flat for the fifth time, I found Mr Whiteley on the floor behind his armchair and carried him to safety outside. I kept thinking ‘I will save him because he is also a father’.
“The fire service was very quick to respond but I would not have wanted anything on my conscience if I knew I could have helped Mr Whiteley.
“We were both taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. Mike has made a full recovery and I am delighted to be given this award.”
Mr Hayes, who was born in Liverpool, was a self-employed plasterer before he took up his new role as a buildings manager.
Mr Whiteley, 86, who was born in Hoylake, has lived at The Cliff for around nine years.
He said: “I was very pleased to hear Brian would receive an award. I thought it was well done and well deserved.
“I was dragged out of the flames. The smoke was horrible. My hair was black from the soot.”
Chief fire officer Dan Stephens said: “This is the first time a Merseyside fire and rescue service bravery medal has ever been issued and Mr Hayes thoroughly deserves the recognition.
“Mr Hayes confronted heat and smoke to rescue Mr Whiteley in a heroic act.”
Mr Hayes rescued Mr Whiteley on November 25 last year.
The fire service was called at at 2.45pm to the blaze in the second-floor flat.
The new bravery award will be presented to Mr Hayes at a special ceremony later this year.