July 2017 Reading Chronicle
A deaf mother who was woken up by firefighters rushing her and her daughter out of a smoke-filled home thanked the emergency services for rescuing them. Chloe Stoakes arose to plumes of thick black smoke after an abandoned hob had been left on overnight. Firefighters and neighbours had banged on the door but Ms Stoakes, 46, cannot hear during the night because she removes her cochlear implant. Crews had no choice but to break into the house in Mayfield Drive, Caversham, and rescue the unaware duo.
Ms Stoakes said: "I was woken up by firemen and paramedics as my house was full of smoke due to a pan being left on. "When they woke me I thought it was my cat as she usually paws me awake around 6am, so I kept turning away. When I did realise I had no idea if house was still on fire or anything I as couldn't hear until I put my cochlear implant in.” Ms Stoakes' fire alarms were not properly fitted. Luckily, a neighbour had noticed smoke billowing from the semi-detached home and called the emergency services. "The neighbours were banging on the window before they called fire brigade," Ms Stoakes continued. I feel very very lucky as it could have been much worse if it wasn't for them. I would like to raise awareness on deafness and fire safety as people can get caught out anywhere. I once worked in a nursing home and first I knew there was a fire safety exercise was when I saw a fireman in a mirror in the loo- everyone else had been evacuated. There are specialist devices available now but not everyone is aware of these particularly if your not involved in the Deaf community."
A spokesman for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "As no one was responding when they banged on the door, firefighters had to get inside the house using an extension ladder through a window. In the kitchen they found food had been left cooking on the hob so they removed the pans and switched off the power. A neighbour dialled 999 to alert firefighters after they smelled burning coming from the house next door. There was a smoke alarm in the property but it had been incorrectly fitted so did not activate. Fortunately the damage was limited to the pan, and mother and daughter were uninjured."