Two Gwent Police constables have won a regional Police Bravery Award for saving eight people from a house fire in Newport.
PC Rhiannon Hurst and PC Owen Davies were presented with the award by Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, at the ceremony in central London at the event attended by senior officials from government and chief constables from around the country.
The officers were confronted with a three storey end of terrace property which was well ablaze. It was a chaotic scene with the ambulance service already in attendance.
They entered the smoke-filled house and started to search for the occupants, finding a number of adults in different areas of the house. As the fire raged, it became more difficult for the officers to breath and the heat became almost unbearable.
The brave officers took a total of seven family members out of the house to safety - but while they were doing this they were told that there was a disabled child trapped in the attic room of the house. Both officers re-entered the house, making their way closer to the seat of the fire.
They found the access door to the attic on the first floor landing, but were unable to open it. PC Hurst then left to summon further assistance, while PC Davies tried in vain to force open the door. This was happening in a chaotic situation, where their own safety was compromised.
The noise of the fire became deafening, the heat unbearable and the smoke suffocating. Despite this PC Davies continued to try to force open the door. Suddenly burning wood began to fall from the ceiling, scorching his clothing and boots. Even after this he continued to try to force the door open, but eventually he was forced to beat a retreat, as further burning wood fell from the ceiling.
Once outside, the fire service had arrived and they were able to explain where the child was in the property. The fire service entered in full breathing apparatus and forced entry to the attic room.
During the intervening period the child had climbed onto the roof of the property and with the use of ladders they were able to safely rescue him. Fortunately none of the members of public or police officers were seriously injured from the fire, which was later revealed as having been caused by an electrical fault.
Wales Office Minister Alun Cairn said:
The unwavering courage shown by PC Rhiannon Hurst and PC Owen Davies is testament to the bravery shown by police officers up and down the country who put their own safety at risk to protect the lives of others.
All of the Welsh officers nominated for this honourable award have gone far beyond the call of duty – showing outstanding courage to protect our communities.
I would like to join the Police Federation in thanking our brave police officers for their outstanding commitment.
Jeff Farrar, chief constable of Gwent Police, said:
Both officers acted without thought for their own safety, in an attempt to prevent injury to the occupants of the house. The actions were truly courageous.’
Jeff Mapps, chair of Gwent Police Federation, said:
These officers were extremely brave in what was an extremely dangerous situation. They put their own safety aside for the benefit of others. It is life-or-death decisions such as this, that officers make 24/7, day in and day out.
Stephen Mann, CEO, Police Mutual, said:
This incident is another example of the real dangers faced by officers across the country. Police Mutual is honoured to sponsor the Police Bravery Awards and congratulate the officers who have shown tremendous dedication and commitment to their role in protecting others, with little thought for their own safety. We thank you wholeheartedly for keeping us safe.