Michelle is keen to prevent others suffering fires

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A MIDDLETON woman has gone from being a fire victim to a volunteer.

Michelle Arundale’s home was wrecked in a blaze caused by a crystal ornament.

Hanging in her bedroom window, it magnified the sun’s rays and caught the curtains alight, sparking devastating fire.

But former nurse Michelle has used the experience to work with the firefighters who fought the fire at her home.

She is part of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s team of community volunteers who help to support its home fire safety campaign.

“Fire is one of those things that people can be complacent about, imagining it could never happen to them,” she said.

“At the time, we considered ourselves to be quite careful but we ended up losing our home. “I was always keen for something positive to come out of that experience.

“So, when I saw the fire service were looking for community volunteers, it seemed a perfect opportunity for me to get involved.

“If talking to people about my experience and how to reduce the risk of fire means that I can help prevent someone from losing their home, or worse, then it has to be worthwhile.”

The first year of the community volunteer scheme has seen the team grow to 24. They work in Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Worthing, Chichester and Midhurst.

Their contribution was recently recognised by the fire and rescue service’s chief fire officer, Sean Ruth, in a ceremony at Edes House, Chichester.

Volunteers manager Emma Francis said: “Our community volunteers have become a really valued part of the fire service team. They come from all walks of life and bring all sorts of different skills and experiences.”