Bedfordshire Police has nominated a detective for the National Police Bravery Awards 2023 after his heroic attempts to save a suspect’s life saw him suffer life-changing burn injuries.
The detective sergeant, who wishes to remain anonymous, led a team of four officers to attempt the arrest of an individual suspected of committing three arson offences over the previous 24-hour period.
The dangerous individual, who had used an accelerant to cause maximum damage to residential properties within close proximity to a 14-storey high rise, was believed lucky to not have killed any members of the public during his arson spree.
Attending the individual’s home address on the top floor of the block of flats, the officer and his arrest team managed to engage with the occupant through the front door, without it being opened.
It soon became apparent the individual had lit a fire within the premises as smoke was seen escaping from the letterbox.
Without hesitation or a thought for his own safety, he requested one of his colleagues break down the front door. He then entered the property only to be confronted with a pile of burning cardboard boxes.
As the officer attempted to extinguish the pile of boxes, the individual retreated further into his property before fatally falling from the balcony.
The fire within the flat intensified at speed and was soon floor-to-ceiling suggesting the use of an accelerant.
The hallway was filled by the flames which blocked his only exit from the flat. In his efforts to escape he was engulfed in flames and emerged to the horror of his colleagues overwhelmed by the fire.
Despite the severity of his condition and the pain he was in, he ran door-to-door to raise the alarm for the other residents, doubtlessly saving further loss of life.
The detective sergeant's colleague, DI James Day, noted: “It goes without saying he was selfless in his actions on that morning, to negate the safety of himself to go and save others from harm whilst having sustained serious injuries himself.”
He was taken to Stoke Mandeville Burns Unit where he became critically ill and was placed into an induced coma. Treatment has been ongoing ever since including numerous operations and skin grafts.
Bedfordshire Police Federation Chair, Stephen Bozward, commented: "His actions demonstrate he showed tremendous courage and leadership, as he has done throughout his career.
"Despite his serious and life-threatening injuries he continued putting the safety of the public and his colleagues before himself. There is no doubt his heroic selfless actions saved further loss of life that day.”
Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst commended his officer’s work and selflessness: “He is the consummate professional who never asked others to do what he was not prepared to.
"Hence why he was there leading his team on that morning and was the first to rush into a burning flat in a brave attempt to save the life of another.
"Despite his life-threatening injuries, he has remained positive and an ambassador for Bedfordshire Police.”