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SAS: Who Dares Wins Firefighter Ricky Nuttall Recalls Horror Of Grenfell Fire

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SAS: Who Dares Wins Firefighter Ricky Nuttall Recalls Horror Of Grenfell Fire

On 14 June 2017, firefighters were transported to Grenfell Tower - a 24-storey block of flats in London - where they tackled a blaze that left 72 people dead.

One of the crew members involved was Ricky Nuttall who recently appeared on Channel 4's SAS: Who Dares Wins where he recalled the shift that changed his life:

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After appearing on the show, Ricky, 40, spoke to LADbible about how he went to work on 13 June as himself and came home on 16 June 'a complete stranger'.

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Ricky, who had been in the fire service for 12 and a half years when the call came in, made it up to the 15th floor in 550°C temperatures, carrying 60kg of equipment and with little oxygen.

With seconds to spare, Ricky and his colleague got out of the building before their masks stuck to their faces, but said he can't imagine a single firefighter not doing what they did that night.

Speaking to LADbible, Ricky recalled: "Myself and my colleague were sent into the building. And we were tasked with attending the 15th floor of the tower to rescue somebody from a flat."

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Ricky and his colleague began using oxygen from their breathing apparatus on the fourth floor. They kept going, despite knowing their air wasn't going to be sufficient to get them to the 15th floor and back.

He went on to add: "We knew that it wasn't going to be easy. We knew that it was a big ask. But we were prepared to do what we could to get there.

"I knew at that point, that there was a very, very, very high risk to myself, to my personal safety, I knew that there was a chance that I maybe wouldn't get back out.

"We weren't aware of the stability of the tower at that time. It was fully engulfed in flames."

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Once on the 15th floor and outside the person's flat, their emergency whistles started activating which tells the firefighters that they're running low on air and should already be out of the building.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

He continued: "We're on our knees, we're extremely hot, we've got tangled hose, no water, and now we've got no air."

Not knowing what they would be faced with upon entering the flat (Ricky explained there could have been an entire family to help), they decided to leave their equipment where it was and get out.

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This meant that a fresh crew would be able to get up to the 15th floor as quickly as possible and the tools would be waiting for them.

Recalling the moment they began to make their way back down, Ricky said: "We literally ran out the building at a rate of knots. The way I've described it in the past is when you're a kid going down a stairwell in a block of flats, and you put one hand on the wall, one hand on the banister, and you sort of swing your legs down. That's how we got out, flight by flight by flight.

"And we got out with literally seconds to spare before our masks would have been stuck to faces and we had no air. It was a very close call."

Ricky appeared on the sixth season of SAS: Who Dares Wins. Credit: Channel 4
Ricky appeared on the sixth season of SAS: Who Dares Wins. Credit: Channel 4
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"If you asked me to get to the 15th floor of a tower block now with the same amount of air, without the adrenalin and without the life risk being involved, I would turn around to you and confidently say that's impossible.

"We achieved the impossible just by achieving what we did that night."

When they left the building instead of resting, having a drink or reflecting on what had happened, they were on the search for more equipment to get back inside.

Ricky worked from 8pm on 13 June until 4pm on 14 June. Then he had four hours off duty before starting his next shift at 8pm on 14 June, despite being offered an extended rest.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Unfortunately, the man inside the flat died, which had a profound impact on Ricky over the years that followed.

He went on to say: "My now ex girlfriend - who I was with at the time - said that I went to work on 13 June me and I came home on 16 June a complete stranger.

"With hindsight, I completely understand. The problem is that my mental health deteriorated extremely far.

"I just became broken. And I became very angry. My relationship with my son deteriorated drastically. I was always shouting at him. I was always angry at my partner at the time, his mum. But I felt justified in my anger.

"It made me so aggressively angry, but never physically violent or anything, but just a scary person to live with."

He added: "I just felt so sad to my very core that I didn't want to be alive. I thought if this is how I'm going to feel every day for the rest of my life, I would rather be dead.

"And I maintain that now, if I felt that still, I would probably be dead. Because no one wants to live like that. I would not choose that life for anybody."

Ricky worked on and rebuilt a relationship with his son and then got into a new relationship before applying for SAS: Who Dares Wins.

Despite voluntarily withdrawing from the course, he explained how he got everything he wanted out of the programme, saying: "This year was different because of Covid. So obviously, we all had to isolate before."

The 10 days of isolation gave Ricky the opportunity to work on his mind and he recalled: "I knew I would be able to push myself physically and that my body wouldn't let me down.

"What I was concerned about was my brain, my mind. I was concerned about given everything I've been through how quickly my mind would break. So I did a lot of work on my mind rather than my physical being."

He added: "After 10 days of doing that I felt at peace, I felt healed. I felt well."

Ricky decided to attack the course and do what he could, but remained conscious he wasn't going to risk the place he was mentally.

He concluded: "The most wonderful thing had happened to me and I didn't need to be there."

You can watch SAS: Who Dares Wins on Channel 4 at 9pm on Sunday and catch up on All 4.

There are various resources that can help provide mental health support, including MIND, Samaritans and CALM:

www.mind.org.uk
0300 123 3393

www.thecalmzone.net
0800 58 58 58

Featured Image Credit: Channel 4/SAS: Who Dares Wins

Topics: Entertainment, TV and Film

Rebecca Shepherd
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