A MAINTENANCE engineer who raised the alarm and rescued staff, visitors and vulnerable patients from a fire at Burnley General Teaching Hospital, says he would do it all over again if he had to.

Nathan Cowburn, from Lower Darwen, discovered the blaze at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre when the building was at full capacity.

The fire was caused by a discarded cigarette and was quickly spreading up the outside of the building right next to the main entrance doors.

He realised that rapid action was necessary to prevent a potential tragedy, the 25-year-old managed to raise the alarm before grabbing a fire extinguisher and tackling the fire until the fire service arrived.

“I was walking past on my way to a maintenance job,” said Nathan.

“It was obvious this was a serious incident and there was smoke coming from the building.

“I activated the fire alarm and informed estates management to ensure our contingency plans were activated to safeguard patients and staff.”

In addition to protecting lives, Nathan’s quick-thinking earned him July’s Employee of the Month award from his employer, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT).

Nathan’s boss, operational estates manager Larry Cottey said “What this young man has done is very commendable… literally putting his own safety on the line to save lives! He helped us avoid a disaster."

The fire was on April 15 this year and throughout the dramatic evacuation of the building, smoke was spreading into the adjacent Central Birth Suite where several women were in labour, putting the women and their babies at risk.

Nathan continued fighting the fire and limiting its spread until the fire service arrived 10 minutes later when two fire crews took over.

“Nathan’s actions stopped the fire spreading and ensured the Birthing suite could continue to operate without evacuation until the new babies had arrived and ensured minimal disruption to critical patient services,” added Larry.

“His actions also limited the damage to the building so that it could be returned to operation in a shorter timescale.”

Nathan, who has worked at East Lancashire Hospitals for eight years, will now be shortlisted for the ELHT ‘Employee of the Year’ award to be presented at the Trust’s STAR Awards ceremony in spring 2020.