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2 November 2021
Two Wiltshire Police officers who entered a burning building on New Year’s Eve to save its residents and arrest the arsonist have been nominated for The National Police Bravery Awards.
The duo – how have asked not to be named - responded to a report of a male occupant causing a disturbance to the other residents in the block of four flats in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. While enroute they were informed that the man was now shouting ‘Fire’ and the fire alarms in the building were sounding.
As the officers approached the flats – on 31 December 2019 - they could see flames and smoke billowing out of one of the upstairs windows. They were both concerned for the occupants of the block, including the welfare of the suspect who had set the fire.
Without a second’s thought they both entered the block to evacuate everyone inside. As they did so they were met with the offender, who was coming down the stairs trying to escape; he was aggressive to the officers and had to be restrained to prevent him injuring them.
The smoke was now coming out of his flat into the corridor and it looked like the fire was going to spread to the adjacent property.
One of the officers continued to struggle with the man, but had him under relative control, so the other ran up the stairs to get the other residents out.
The officers continued to evacuate the building until everyone was safe, with the last people out being a mother and child who were unaware of the danger they were in. Two fire engines attended and got the fire under control. Both officers suffered the effects of smoke inhalation, but did not require any direct medical treatment.
The offender was charged and found guilty at court for endangering lives as a result of the arson and is currently in a secure facility.
Wiltshire Police Federation Chairman Mark Andrews said: “The officers’ actions brought a dangerous offender to justice, but more importantly saved lives. Their bravery and selflessness are an example to others.
“They are a credit to the force and to the police service. In this high-risk incident they ran towards the danger, entering a smoke-filled building to save the residents.
“In addition to safeguarding all residents, they faced hostility and violence from the offender who appeared to have set the fire, and furthermore battled through heavy smoke to control the scene and ensure the safety of all residents.
“They are to be highly commended for their bravery and are deserving of this nomination.”
As well as being nominated for The National Bravery Awards, both officers received a Chief Constable's Certificate of Excellence (Gold).
The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.
As nominees, the Wiltshire Police duo will attend an awards ceremony in London on 9 December 2021.
The National Police Bravery Awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.