Skip to main content

I would call Kevin Marriott and Steve Whitehouse garbage collectors. The U.K. workers would probably describe themselves as “binmen.” But we can all agree they’re heroes.

When their truck rolled up to an apartment building in Tipton, England, they found the front of the building ablaze. And that’s not all: a woman was on a second floor balcony, trapped by the flames. And she was crying out for help.

Whitehouse 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.”

In this case, getting to her required leaping a fence and climbing the burning burning building. So that’s exactly what the 49-year-old man did. Once up the balcony, he grabbed the woman and lowered her to safety.

Garbage truck driving past apartment buildings in the U.K.
Garbage truck | Andy Soloman/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The flames continued to rise, but he didn’t jump to safety. “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.”

Unfortunately, the dog wouldn’t be as easy to lower to the ground as the woman had been. So Whitehouse came up with another plan.

“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.”

That’s right, Whitehouse scaled the burning building a second time to help the other resident get down. Of course, Kevin Marriott wasn’t sitting around watching. He began to tend to injured and scared residents who were evacuating.

U.K. fire department responds to an apartment fire.
Fire truck | Ryan Jenkinson/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Whitehouse kept going. After rescuing the two people and the dog he began banging on doors to make certain everyone inside got out safely.

After saving three lives, what did the two men do? They decided to park the truck and take a well-earned coffee break. And over a steaming hot cup of Joe the exhausted heroes might have considered calling it quits, but they couldn’t just let the trash pile up. So once they were caffeinated, they resumed the route.

Whitehouse said, “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.”

When the fire department arrived they gave the dog oxygen therapy and administered to the evacuees. It took four engines and 19 firefighters to get the blaze under control.

“I have no doubt that without Steve’s incredible bravery the outcome could have been very different…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.”

Chris Green, fire incident commander

Next, read about the dad who saved a mother and toddler from a sinking car with a ratchet strap.