An elderly man has thanked firefighters who rescued him from a fire at his home in Aldershot after he fell into a diabetic coma.

Around 14 firefighters attended and forced their way into a flat in Tongham Road at 4.20pm on Sunday to find 76-year-old Denis Ward unconscious on the floor.

Mr Ward this week thanked those who came to his aid after he fell into a hypoglycemic coma – which occurs when sugar levels in the blood fall dangerously low – due to his Type 1 diabetes.

He had been cooking vegetables and it was only his smoke alarm that alerted his neighbours.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus pulled Mr Ward to safety before he was taken to Frimley Park Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Mr Ward, who has recovered and returned home, said: “I am still not sure who it was who alerted the fire crew, but of course I am grateful to them and the emergency services.

"It’s not the first time the ambulance has picked me up. Usually I can feel a hypo coming on, but I didn’t this time. I don’t know how long I was out.”

Crew manager Ian Crawley, who was involved in the rescue, congratulated the neighbours on their prompt actions and said the smoke alarm had been crucial in saving Mr Ward’s life.

“The neighbour spotted the alarm first and thought it was their own,” he said. “If she hadn’t have done that, I don’t think he would be with us now.

“When we got there, there was a smell of burning and it was definitely cooking. A neighbour came out and said they didn’t think the man had gone out and must still be inside, so we made the decision to force entry. Our first priority was to get him out. He was unconscious and breathing.”

The importance of the smoke alarm to the rescue was apt as it occurred on the final day of the Chief Fire Officers Association’s home fire safety week campaign.

Held for the first time this year, last week’s event saw firefighters, community safety officers and volunteers giving advice at special events and school visits.

The @SaferHampshire Twitter account was also launched and tweeted safety messages throughout the week.

In light of Mr Ward’s rescue, a spokesman reiterated the importance of testing smoke alarms.

“Smoke detectors are a vital, inexpensive, life-saving tool,” he said. “Those few extra minutes they give you, can help you get out safely if there is a fire in your home.

“We would ask that people test their smoke alarms and consider testing those of family, friends and neighbours who may be over the age of 65, live alone or have a physical or learning disability and find it difficult to test their own.”