FireFighter Fleur Lombard, 21, from Speedwell Fire Station, Avon Fire Brigade, who tragically died in the line of duty fighting a fire at Leo’s supermarket, in Staple Hill, Bristol on the 4th of February 1996.
At 12.46pm hours on the 4th February 1996, Avon Fire Brigade (now Avon Fire and Rescue Service) received a 999 call reporting a fire at Leo’s Supermarket, Staple Hill, Bristol.
Two fire appliances were mobilised to the incident, and on arrival the officer in charge requested a further two fire appliances, “Make Pumps 4”.
Due to reports of people possibly being trapped inside the building, firefighters wearing breathing apparatus were committed to carry out a search of the building.
Fleur and her breathing apparatus team partner Firefighter Robert Seaman were amongst the firefighters committed to search the building.
Whilst making their way out of the building, there was a sudden and rapid escalation of the fire (Flashover), Firefighter Seaman despite being disoriented managed to make his way out of the building, however on exiting he realised Fleur was not with him, despite the intense fire conditions together with another firefighter he made his way back into the building to search for her.
Fleur was located a short distance from an exit point, and was rescued by her colleagues, she was transported to hospital, where tragically she was declared dead a short time later.
Further assistance messages were received by control at 1.11pm “Make pumps 6 and hydraulic platform required “ and at 1.43pm a “Make pumps 10 message”. The fire was finally brought under control at approximately 4.43pm hours.
Following investigations it was established that Fleur was killed as a direct result of being exposed to intense heat, she was the first female firefighter to die in peacetime service in Britain.
Following a joint fire and police investigation it was established that the fire had been started deliberately by security guard Martin Cody, on his first day at work at the supermarket. Cody was later jailed for seven and a half years for manslaughter and arson.
Fleur was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.
Robert Seaman was awarded the George Medal, for his bravery in returning into the burning building when he realised his partner had not followed him out.
Firefighter Pat Foley, who also went into the blazing supermarket to help, was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.
On 15 May 2019, Great Western Railway named a Class 800 intercity express train No. 800023, in honour of Fleur.
Our thoughts and prayers go to Fleur’s family, friends and colleagues on this day.
Firefighter Fleur Lombard QGM, Speedwell Fire Station, Avon Fire Brigade, Gone but never forgotten.