Hero Sandwell bin man rescues two people and a dog from house fire on morning round

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Steve Whitehouse has been hailed a hero after rescuing two people and a dog from a maisonette fire

A brave Sandwell Council binman has been hailed a hero after he rescued two people and a dog from a devastating house fire during his morning rounds.

Serco employee Steve Whitehouse, 49, was on his trade waste round with bin lorry driver Kevin Marriott when they spotted the blaze at a maisonette in Tipton at 8am yesterday (Tuesday, February 27).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He leapt over a fence and climbed up a wall to reach the first-floor balcony of the property to reach a screaming woman as the flames quickly took hold. The Serco employee saved the woman's life before clambering back up two more times to rescue a man and his dog before fire crews arrived at the scene.

Fire bosses have praised Steve and said without his "incredible bravery" the outcome may have been "very different" following the blaze. Dad-of-one Steve, or Winnie as he is known by his colleagues, of Yew Tree, West Bromwich, said: "I saw a young woman screaming from the balcony and all I could think was that I needed to get to her as quickly as possible.

“The smoke was getting thicker. I called to anyone else who might be inside and could hear a young man shouting in distress for his dog. I managed to bundle up the dog in a blanket, jumped back down to the ground, and got the owner to throw the dog to me. I then went back up to help him.”

The maisonette in Ridgeway Road, Tipton during the fire, February 27 2024The maisonette in Ridgeway Road, Tipton during the fire, February 27 2024
The maisonette in Ridgeway Road, Tipton during the fire, February 27 2024 | West Midlands Fire Service/ SWNS

Once Steve had completed the rescues, he started banging on neighbours’ doors to alert them to the danger as smoke billowed from the property. Kevin tended to neighbours who were evacuated their homes and after "recovering with a coffee" the pair continued with their round.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Steve added: “I wanted to be sure that all our customers got their collections. But that’s just me – it will probably sink in later today what actually happened."

Dramatic photos show the devastation caused to the property when an e-bike battery exploded at the maisonette on Ridgeway Road. The electric vehicle had been charging at the bottom of the stairs – cutting off the occupants’ escape route as flames came out the property "like a blow torch".

Kevin Marriott (left) and Steve Whitehouse (right), who rescued people from a fire in a maisonette in Ridgeway Road, Tipton, February 27 2024Kevin Marriott (left) and Steve Whitehouse (right), who rescued people from a fire in a maisonette in Ridgeway Road, Tipton, February 27 2024
Kevin Marriott (left) and Steve Whitehouse (right), who rescued people from a fire in a maisonette in Ridgeway Road, Tipton, February 27 2024 | Serco / SWNS

Four fire engines and a total of 19 firefighters responded from Tipton, Dudley, Bilston and Wednesbury fire stations and arrived with four minutes of the 999 call.

Tipton Watch Commander Chris Green said: “It was clear as we approached that this was a severe fire. I have no doubt that, without Steve’s incredible bravery, the outcome could have been very different.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I have no idea how he managed to do what he did. It was heroic. The fire and smoke were coming out of the property’s rear door like a blow torch. One rescue would have been remarkable. To save the lives of two people and a dog is staggering. We will be putting him forward for official recognition.”

The remains of a maisonette in Ridgeway Road, Tipton after a fire, February 27 2024The remains of a maisonette in Ridgeway Road, Tipton after a fire, February 27 2024
The remains of a maisonette in Ridgeway Road, Tipton after a fire, February 27 2024 | West Midlands Fire Service/ SWNS

Fire crews gave first aid to a man in his 20s before he was taken to hospital suffering from the effects of smoke. A woman, also in her 20s, was checked over at the scene by paramedics. The dog was given oxygen therapy by firefighters.

West Midlands Fire Service said the fire affected the entire flat and destroyed its contents. It was extinguished by 9am. A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "We were called at 8.32am to a fire at a private address on Ridgeway Road in Tipton.

"One ambulance and a paramedic officer attended the scene. Upon arrival we found a man with injuries not believed to be life-threatening. He received treatment at the scene and was conveyed to Sandwell District Hospital for further assessment.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Councillor Danny Millard, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for environment and highways, said: “I would like to thank Steve and Kevin for their quick-thinking actions and for the way they supported residents and the fire service.

“Our bin crews already do an important job for Sandwell residents, and I praise Steve, Kevin and the rest of their crew’s efforts to continue with the day job and complete the collection round following this incident.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.