Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 05/07/2006, p.3

A FIREFIGHTER broke down yesterday as he told how he tried in vain to save a baby from a blazing house.

One-year-old Hayley Wilson died in the Toowoomba fire on Monday night despite the bravery of Dave Woods.

The firefighter smashed his way into the smoke-filled house without breathing apparatus to rescue Hayley.

“I don’t class that as heroic; I class that as doing my job,” a tearful Mr Woods, a father of three, said at the scene. “Being a child, it hits home a little bit more.

“Someone said the baby was in the front bedroom. I approached the window and identified there was not too much heat . . . I broke the window. . . visibility was zero.

“I took a breath and did a snatch with no visibility. I felt for a pulse (but) there was no pulse, no breathing, so we went to CPR.
You check for response, you check for a heartbeat and keep going as long as you can.”

Mr Wood and a colleague performed CPR until ambulance crews arrived.
Hayley was taken to Toowoomba Hospital but did not regain consciousness.

The fire would have claimed more lives except for the quick thinking of nine-year-old Daniel Wilson, who helped his mother Christine Wilson and his siblings — Christian, 6, Emily,4, and Madison, 2 — escape the blaze about 11.20pm.

Daniel, woken by the fire alarm, quickly alerted his mother and brother and sisters who had been asleep in the loungeroom and helped get them out of the house.

Mrs Wilson, a widow, tried to get to the room where Hayley, her granddaughter, was sleeping but was was beaten back by thick smoke and intense heat.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service area director Bruce Smith said the fire alarm had definitely saved the lives of the rest of the family.

Firefighters were at the scene in Toowoomba’s western suburb of Glenvale within five minutes.

Hayley’s mother Melinda Wilson was too distraught to speak yesterday about the loss of her baby, the youngest of her three daughters.

Friend Suzanna Jones said the family was struggling to cope with the loss of Hayley. “She was a beautiful bubby and we’ll all miss her,” she said.

Lifeline helped the family yesterday with emergency supplies of food and clothing. Police and fire investigators were at the scene.

Life-saving tips

* Install and regularly check smoke alarms.

* Never run extension cords under carpets or rugs. Localised heating
may cause a short circuit that could result in fire.

* When installing security grilles on windows, select a unit that
feature keyless options on the inside.

* Ensure that any window grille bars/screens readily open outwards
from the inside.

* Prepare and practise an escape plan.

Copyright 2006 / Courier Mail