FOUR firefighters who survived a gas explosion have been honoured for their bravery.

The crew members from Farnworth fire station’s white watch — watch manager Ben Cartwright, crew manager Anthony Loftus and firefighters Mark Gillard and Jason Snowden — were tackling a fire in what they thought was rubbish at a derelict scrapyard in Cross Street, Farnworth, on May 12.

But the rubbish contained “carelessly discarded” acetylene cylinders which exploded, knocking the four firefighters off their feet.

They blast caused them temporary hearing loss and shock but they were lucky to escape with no serious long-term injuries.

Now the four men have been given certificates of outstanding performance by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) for their bravery.

Watch manager Ben Cartwright won praise after he delayed going to hospital to perform a full handover to the relief crew — despite being injured and suffering from shock. He said: “I’m sure that I am speaking on behalf of white watch when I say how proud I am to be part of the watch and of the way that we dealt with things during and after the incident.

“We are happy to be recognised by GMFRS for our actions following the incident in May.

“The incident highlights the dangers faced by firefighters — especially as this one appeared to be a rubbish fire and resulted in four of us going to hospital.”

Station Manager Phil Hall said: “I think the actions of all the attending crews, both in dealing with the initial fire but also the subsequent explosion and injury to colleagues, showed true professionalism.”

Greater Manchester chief fire officer Steve McGuirk said: “This certificate of outstanding performance recognises the character and attitude shown by all Farnworth’s white watch crews at Cross Street that night.

“From the injured colleagues who remained on duty and returned to the station, attending other incidents during the remainder of the night shift, to everyone who continued to report for duty in the days and weeks following — actions that I believe constitute ac lear demonstration of all the the best traditions and integrity of ther Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.