A shopping centre’s security staff have won an award for their swift response when a freak fire broke out in one of the shops.
The team at Eagles Meadow in Wrexham sprang into action when a faulty light fitting caused a blaze at the Sports Direct store.
They have now been named as the winners of the Regional Team of the Year Award by the British Security Industry Association (BSIA).
The team, employed by VSG Security, will be represented at the glitzy annual awards ceremony in Northampton at the end of the month by Sarah Powell and Grant Simmons.
As a result of the fire, the Sports Direct store and the adjoining Clinton Cards outlet were closed for more than a week while smoke damage repairs, redecoration and restocking took place.
Speaking at the time, Claire Vinall, manager of the Clintons Cards store, was full of praise for the actions of the Eagles Meadow security team who she says acted quickly and professionally.
She said: “The store began to fill with thick black acrid smoke after the fire broke out in the Sports Direct shop next door. The centre’s security team were superb and got everyone out very quickly. They were so helpful.
“We had a team come in and replace the whole ceiling and paint and redecorate the shop before we could restock. Everyone did a fantastic job from the Eagles Meadow security team to the clean-up crew and the staff that helped re-stock the shop.”
Chris Bellingham, area manager of Sports Direct, was also absolutely delighted with the efforts of the Eagles Meadow security team and his own shop staff.
He said: “The fire was caused by a faulty light fitting. As we were trading at the time staff and customers were in the building but responded brilliantly. Everyone was evacuated exactly as they should have been.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with the actions of all the staff and security team and proud of the way they dealt with what was potentially a very dangerous situation.”
According to Sarah Powell, the incident showed the importance of the rigorous training and fire drills at Eagles Meadow.
Sarah recalled: “I was in the Eagles Meadow security control at the time the fire started. Grant was first on the scene along with Daren Braisdell. It was a case of calm team work and everyone acting professionally.
“It took less than four minutes to evacuate Sports Direct and surrounding stores and the Fire Service responded really quickly. Fire drills are important and when we get a real incident it just shows how important they really are in keeping everyone safe.”
“I’m chuffed to be going to the awards ceremony to collect the award on behalf of the whole team. It’s nice to be recognised and I’m just glad everything went well on the day.”
Grant added: “During the evacuation of the shops everyone was so calm and collected and left the shops very quickly and in an orderly fashion.
“There was no panic and everyone acted really responsibly. As Sarah rightly says it shows the importance of regular fire drills.”
“It’s amazing we have won this ward. It means a lot and I’m thrilled to be going with Sarah to the ceremony in Northampton. It’s going to be a fantastic experience.”
Phil Garland, the VSG Security contract manager at Eagles Meadow, was really proud of the whole Eagles Meadow security team.
He said: “Everyone responded in exactly the right way. The whole team train hard so we are prepared for incidents such as this. Obviously we hope they never happen but when and if they do its vital everyone acts exactly as they are trained to do.
“It’s fantastic that on this occasion everything went smoothly and everyone was kept safe. Looking after Eagles Meadow shoppers and visitors is always our number one priority.”
Barry Dawson, managing director of VSG UK and Ireland, was also thrilled.
He said: “I just want to congratulate our Eagles Meadow security team. This is a proud moment for the team members but also for VSG.
“To be recognised as regional winners at the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) Security Personnel annual awards, is a fantastic achievement in its own right. It now means, as regional winners, the team will now be nominated for the national finals.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley: “Our security team worked brilliantly to ensure everyone was evacuated quickly and calmly and shop staff and customers reacted to the situation in exactly the right way.
“They really deserve to be named the as the regional security team of the year. They’ve proved themselves to be real heroes. I’m thrilled for them.”