“Thatch Fire in Oxfordshire sparks RRT response”

Residents of a thatched cottage in East Hagbourne, Oxfordshire (a village near to Didcot) had to flee their property as a fire broke out at 22:30 on Saturday 29th June. By the time the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service arrived the blaze was already well-established, and occupants from adjoining houses were asked to vacate their properties.

Plymouth Brethren - Didcot

Seven fire crews moved quickly to stop the fire spreading to neighbouring homes and worked through the night damping down the thatch. Local members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church arrived on the scene at the same time as the Fire and Rescue Service, and their offer of a Rapid Relief Team to provide refreshments for the 40 fire fighters was gratefully received by the incident commander.

Plymouth Brethren - Didcot

Governors and the Head Teacher of the local Hagbourne School kindly made their building and equipment available for the Rapid Relief Team to use, with a generator also being provided by a local resident, as electricity in that part of village had been switched off due to the fire.

The RRT remained on site throughout the night, supported by local residents, leaving around 05:00 when it became clear the incident was finally under control, and the numbers of fire fighters on site were being reduced. However, during the day on Sunday the RRT called in on a number of occasions to continue to provide food and drink, to be served by willing local residents to the Fire and Rescue Service. Due to the risk of the fire breaking out again in what remained of the thatch, fire fighters continued to monitor the property until Monday evening.

Plymouth Brethren - Didcot

In the words of W/M Lee Swain – “The fact that you were providing endless cups of hot tea and coffee, and snacks – always with a smile – made it that little bit easier for us to stay focused on the job in hand and continue with our attempts to salvage as much property as we possibly could. This was, by far, the most generous and considerate welfare service I have experienced at an incident – please pass on this message to everyone in the Rapid Relief Team who contributed to this effort.”

See below letter of thanks from Oxfordshire County Council Chief Fire Officer

Plymouth Brethren - Letter of Thanks

Letter of Thanks


13 thoughts on ““Thatch Fire in Oxfordshire sparks RRT response””

  1. Sumting says:

    This is just amazing. Is there an RRT in Suffolk where we’re from??

  2. Porkypie says:

    Awesome! How do we get in touch with you guys if help is required??

  3. Zap says:

    Hi…, I am interested to know how the RRT know about these incidents early enough to arrive at the same time as the professional services; is there an emergency number to call, or are the team linked in immediately on the network when the emergency services get information? Also, I would like to know about the training programme and qualifications for the RRT. The public will expect appropriate standards of care from anyone appearing in “Hi-Viz” at an emergency site. Do hope you can help!

    1. BertieWooster says:

      Hello Zap,
      i see you’ve asked about this on the Scout’s blog as well – hope that reply has answered your queries. Just to clarify… the RRT are not there to do the emergency services job but to help them out by providing refreshments or help in organising (in this case an electrical supply) what might not be available at the scene of incident.
      Hope this helps 😀

    2. Goov says:


      Thanks for your interest.
      Not sure about always getting there at same time as emergency services,normally we get a call from F+R once they have decided they are likely to need welfare support etc.possible it could simply be a case that one of the teams lived nearby or similar.
      Training and qualifications,not sure what your mean by HI-vis but i guess you mean first responders? of which we most definitely are not.
      we are there simply to provide welfare assistance similar to the Salvation Army guys.so there are team members trained in Food hygiene etc and some F+R departments provide basic training H+S and awareness of incident sites.

      But we always operate OUTSIDE the inner cordon but some times within outer cordon.

      in short its all about just lending a hand when its needed and “helping communities in times of need”

      hope this helps.

  4. John says:

    Well don again guys! I am puzzled as to how you get to know about emergencies as quickly as the Fire Service

    1. topdraw says:

      i think you’ll find that often the RRT are actually contacted by the fire service who asks them to come.

    2. John says:

      I have a letter from a Chief Fire Officer stating that the above claim ie that the RRT is contacted by the Fire Service is not the case.

    3. Andy says:

      Thanks John, how about posting a copy of the letter here?

    4. Goov says:


      All Fire and Rescue Services operate slightly different welfare arrangements but I would be very interested to see your “letter”.
      Our local F+R contacts us directly at any time of day and night! and their guys love us!!
      But sometimes as you may be aware we live in an “up to the minute” world and news travels fast now and teams members may become aware of a large incident that obviously is going to take a while to sort and we will offer our services before we get a call.

      Hope this helps and glad of your interest if you are really keen to show support just watch out for your local team and go and donate some refreshments!

      have a great day!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Great stuff

  6. Granny says:

    Once again the PBCC on duty, all through the night, and a Saturday night at that! This is a fantastic response by the Didcot RRT – well done, again and again! My admiration knows no bounds – I would have been fast asleep in bed!

  7. Upbeat says:

    Very well done to all involved including the fire-fighters!

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