Wessex’s Knight in shining armour

When Lee Knight saw a lorry on fire as he drove down the motorway he knew he could help – because he is a Fire Extinguisher Manager and had a van full of equipment.

Lee, who works for Wessex Fire & Security, spotted the flames coming out of a skip on the back of the lorry on the M3 near Fleet in Hampshire.

Another motorist flagged down the lorry and Lee pulled in afterwards.

The lorry driver had no extinguisher and was desperately trying to move the skip off his vehicle before the blaze got out of hand and spread.

Luckily for him Lee, 43, knew exactly what to do and he quickly grabbed three extinguishers from his van and leapt into action.

Together with the driver he was able to use the foam extinguishers to completely extinguish the blaze.

Indeed, there was no need for the fire brigade to attend and a certain disaster was averted.

Incredibly it is the fourth time that Lee has come to the rescue on the roads to put out fires in vehicles.

The experienced Fire Extinguisher Manager said: “I was coming south along the M3 just before the Fleet turn off when I saw a skip lorry in front of me.

“One of the skips was on fire and smoke was pouring from it, but the driver hadn’t noticed.

“A car drove past and signalled to him and I think the driver just thought that some debris had fallen off.

“When he pulled over and saw the flames he got into a bit of a panic and started trying to get the skip off the back of the lorry.

“I had about a dozen full extinguishers in the back of the van, but we only needed three to put out the fire.

“I don’t know how the fire started but it might have been that someone had thrown a cigarette into it and it gradually ignited the material in the skip.

“It just shows the benefit of having an extinguisher handy.

“I’ve been in the fire extinguisher industry since I left school at 16 and have seen first-hand how they can save property and lives.”

There are tens of thousands of vehicle fires each year on Britain’s roads; in 2010-2011 – the most recent figures – there were 32,500 vehicle fires.

Of these, 55 per cent were in cars, 10 per cent were in vans and four per cent were in lorries. In those fires, 44 people lost their lives.

Chris Stott, managing director of Wessex Fire & Security, which is based in Shaftesbury, Dorset, and is part of the Wessex Group, praised his colleague.

He said: “It just goes to show how important fire extinguishers are. Lee was in the right place at the right time – again!

“We maintain almost 30,000 fire extinguishers across the south and supply them to all types of client, from multi-national companies to individuals.

“We hope they are never used, but if there is a fire it’s crucial that they are the right sort and are ready to use.”