Firefighters James Shears, 35, and Alan Bannon, 38, both of Red Watch at St Mary’s fire station, who tragically died in the line of duty on the 6th of April 2010, whilst attending a fire at Shirley Towers, Southampton.
At 8.10pm hours on the evening of the 6th of April 2010, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service received a 999 call reporting a fire on the 9th floor at Shirley Towers, Church Street, Southampton.
A predetermined attendance of 5 fire appliances was mobilised to the incident by Hampshire’s Fire Control. On arrival of the first appliance, it was evident that there was a confirmed fire in progress, and the Incident Commander immediately sent an assistance message requesting further resources.
The fire was found to be located in flat number 72, on the 9th floor of the 15 storey tower block. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus were committed into the flat to attempt to locate and extinguish the fire.
Firefighters Shears and Bannon, were the second team of breathing apparatus wearers to be committed into the flat.
Whilst firefighting operations were being carried out in the flat, there was a sudden and rapid increase in the size of the fire and the intensity of the heat in the flat.
During this time it became apparent that communications with Firefighters Shears and Bannon had been lost, additional breathing apparatus teams were committed into the flat to attempt to locate the missing team.
Sadly during this search both Firefighters were located collapsed, unconscious and trapped by fallen cables.
Both firefighters were freed by their colleagues, and immediately carried from the flat to fresh air where resuscitation attempts were carried out.
Tragically despite these resuscitation attempts both at the scene and at hospital, Firefighter Shears and Bannon were both confirmed deceased.
Two other firefighters were also transported to hospital suffering from burns sustained whilst carrying out firefighting operations.
A total of 20 fire appliances and other specialist support vehicles, with approximately 100 firefighters were in attendance at the scene at the height of the fire.
Following a joint investigation between Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Hampshire Constabulary, the most probable cause of the fire was deemed to have been the accidental ignition of curtain material, located on top of an energised up lighter light fitting within the lounge of flat number 72.
As a direct result of this tragic incident new legislation was introduced into the fixing of cables, to prevent them falling and becoming an entanglement hazard to firefighters during the course of a fire.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Firefighters James Shears and Alan Bannon, Red Watch, St Mary’s fire station. Gone but never forgotten.