Crew Commander Kevin Medhurst. He liked that, it had a certain ring to it. Rank reconstruction also meant that he had more responsibility now. He didn't mind that. He was glad that Nick Georgiadis had noticed his potential and given him the push he had needed, even though they had had their differences. Without that, he would probably still be a firefighter at Blackwall.
Most of the old Blackwall crew had gone now, left, moved on... died. Only George, Recall and Geoff remained. George, it seemed, would be at Blackwall forever. He lacked the ambition Kevin had suddenly found.
Now he found himself in charge of Charlton's Blue Watch as an Acting Watch Commander, which sounded even better. The post was only temporary, he knew, as the real Watch Commander would return from his leave soon.
At that moment, he was enjoying his job. He was also enjoying his personal life. Even though he had vowed never to get involved with anyone at work since his disastrous relationship with Blackwall colleague Sally Reid, it had happened again. He couldn't help falling in love and wondered if this time it was with the right girl.
She wasn't on his Watch, which could only be a good thing. She didn't have any plans of sleeping her way to the top either. He just happened to have rank, she didn't. It made no difference to either of them. Tracy seemed happy enough.
"So when do you get demoted then?" she asked as he packed his bag ready for a day duty.
"I've not been promoted!" he reminded her. "Whenever the guv'nors kid is better I suppose. He seems to be on the mend now."
"Well that's good news."
"Yeah. Anyway," he picked up the bag and moved to kiss her. "I'll see you later."
"Kev?" she asked as he was about to leave the house.
He turned back.
She moved over to him and gave him a longer, passionate kiss. She stopped and looked him straight in the eyes.
He smiled. "You too."
"I will," she promised.
He left the house.
Tracy Bradshaw had been sent to Blackwall, one of their guys had taken a holiday, and they needed a stand-by. According to Dizzy, it was her turn.
"But I went last time," she moaned.
"Diddums," Dizzy grinned.
She didn't mind, it made a change to have some difference surroundings sometimes. She left Lambeth and headed for Blackwall.
Little Sophie Marshall felt her parents hadn't been giving her the attention she deserved. Her big brother Steven was very poorly in hospital, but did that mean they had to forget about her? Daddy had tried to explain it to her, but she was only four years old, she didn't really understand why it was Granny who took her to nursery and picked her up instead of Mummy. Daddy was always busy. He had a big job, he was a fireman and drove round in a big red fire engine with blue flashing lights.
Her teacher, Miss Traynor, had seemed impressed by that. She seemed to enjoy the odd occasion where Sophie's dad would pick Sophie up on one of his days off.
"Good morning, Sophie," Miss Traynor greeted her. "Is Daddy picking you up today?"
Sophie shook her head and ran off to play with some Lego.
Miss Traynor seemed a little disappointed at the news.
It was time for a hydrant inspection. Kevin took his crew to Charlton Nursery School, where they began to test the hydrants on the road outside.
The kids found it fascinating and abandoned their outside play to crowd round the fence and watch. Then the young nursery teacher joined them to find out what was going on.
"Don't worry," she assured the firefighters. "You're not interrupting anything, I know you have an important job to do."
"All right, kid," Kevin recognised Sophie and ruffled her blonde hair.
She shook him off. "Go away," she replied before running back inside the building.
"Sophie!" Miss Traynor called after her. "Sorry about that," she turned back to Kevin.
"She's been through a lot," Kevin replied.
"Yeah," Miss Traynor agreed. "Come on, children, back inside," she herded the reluctant class back inside the nursery. "We have to let the firemen get on with their job."
They had moved to the next street when they were alerted to a fire at the nursery. They rushed over to find part of the main classroom on fire.
"Call it in," Kevin yelled to his crew. "And get a jet on it."
He bumped into Miss Traynor, who had managed to get the children assembled outside with the help of the two nursery nurses.
"Sophie," she cried frantically, looking around. "She's still inside... My God!"
"Ok," Kevin assured her. "It's persons," he yelled back to the crew.
He went over to the building and found an entrance by climbing through a broken window. In the midst of the smoke and flames, he found Sophie and picked her up.
"Come on, Soph."
She looked at him.
"I want my mummy."
"Yeah, we'll get her for you," Kevin promised and started to search for a way out, having become disorientated in the dark, smoky room.
Blackwall's pump ladder crew had also been called to the fire at Charlton Nursery School. There was no sign of Charlton's Watch Commander when they arrived, Geoff Pearce took command of the incident.
"Where's Kevin?" Tracy asked one of the Charlton crew.
"He went inside, Sophie Marshall was in there."
"He did what!" Tracy looked frantically back at the building as Pearce detailed Sally and Hi-Ho as a BA crew.
Miss Traynor, meanwhile, recounted the children and feared she had lost another.
Tracy had seen Kevin at one of the windows. He was glad of some fresh air as she took Sophie from him.
"There's another one in there," she commented.
"I'm going back."
"No," she tried to stop him. "There's a BA crew going in, you're supposed to be out here!"
"I saw something," Kevin insisted.
"Just get out of there, Kev," Tracy took Sophie to safety.
Suddenly, without warning, part of the ceiling collapsed. Tracy turned back.
There was no sign of him at the window.
The fire had been started with a cigarette lighter, amongst the clothes and curtain materials stored in the Home Corner of the nursery. It was thought to have been one of the children. It was just an accident, with tragic consequences.
Sophie Marshall had been traumatised by the events and refused to talk about it. A psychiatrist seemed to think she could have been the arsonist. The second "missing" child had turned up safe and well after wandering off to look at the fire engines.
"He shouldn't have been in there. I told him to get out."
"It was an accident, Trace," Hyper tried to assure her.
"He saved a kid," Hi-Ho tried to be helpful.
Tracy stood up from the table in the Blackwall mess.
"I would rather Kevin was nothing and still here, than be a hero and dead," she left the mess.