Police Federation


A heroic duo who rushed into a flame and smoke-filled detention cell without any protective equipment or firefighting equipment and with little regard for their own safety, undoubtedly saving the life of the inmate, have been nominated for the national Police Bravery Awards 2024.

In the early hours on 10 January 2023 Sergeant Steve Quilliam and Custody Detention Officer (CDO) Lisa Margerison were on duty at the Preston Custody Office when a fire alarm sounded.

Unfortunately, the alarm did not specify the location of the fire, so PS Quilliam made a scan of the CCTV monitors to determine the location of the fire and soon identified smoke becoming visible along one the detention centre’s corridors.

CDO Margerison joined PS Quilliam and ran to the corridor where the smoke had been identified, quickly establishing which cell was emitting the smoke. With no time to identify the individual held within and any safety warning markers, PS Quilliam was able to establish via the spy hole in the door that the cell was dense with thick black smoke.

Flames were just about visible reaching all the way to the ceiling. There was no time to get firefighting equipment as PS Quilliam opened the door to the cell and found, due to the density of the smoke, he was unable to see into the cell let alone locate the detainee within.

Making the decision to try and fight the fire he began stamping at the base of the flames on what he later learned was a mattress and clothing but at the time feared it might in fact be the detainee.  

He and CDO Margerison soon had to retreat from the cell to draw air as the dense smoke overwhelmed them. By now numerous alarms had been triggered as the smoke spread.

For a second time the officers entered the cell but were again beaten back by the smoke, but after drawing air made a third determined attempt to enter and locate the detainee. Reaching the rear of the cell but unable to communicate, they felt along the bench using touch until they found the detainee curled up in a ball. Together they grabbed him and dragged him from the cell.

By now other officers had arrived with appropriate equipment to begin to tackle the fire. Both PS Quilliam, CDO Margerison and the detainee were suffering from smoke inhalation and were immediately taken for medical treatment while colleagues tackled the fire, getting it under control and extinguished.

Fortunately, neither officer suffered serious lasting effects from the smoke or flames and were able to return to duty later that shift. The detainee was taken to hospital to be checked over.

Due to the quick thinking and instinctive actions, PS Quilliam and CDO Margerison undoubtedly saved the life of the detainee without any concern for their own safety. They entered a confined space without any PPE or firefighting equipment, placing themselves in real danger of serious burns or worse, and with determination and courage were able to save the life of a detainee despite clearly being impacted by the ferocity and density of the black smoke.

Chair of Lancashire Police Federation, Zeg Awan, said: “At a time when police offices are scrutinised and criticised for every mistake they make, it is, for once, refreshing that we are congratulating two of our colleagues for displaying courage and commitment. 

“The officers will tell you they were only doing what other officers would have done. To a large extent this is true, but it still takes fortitude to act selflessly in a dynamic and dangerous situation. Congratulations to them for being nominated for this award.”   

Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett, of Lancashire Police, said: “We are incredibly proud of Steve and Lisa, who displayed outstanding heroism in the face of an extremely challenging and difficult situation.

“The brave and selfless actions of these quick-thinking officers undoubtedly saved the life of the detainee and prevented a potentially catastrophic outcome for the other people in custody.

“I thank Steve and Lisa for their actions in going above and beyond the call of duty. They are very worthy nominees.”



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