Police officers who ran into burning building honoured for bravery
THREE police officers who helped rescue 30 elderly and vulnerable people from a burning building in which one man died have been nominated in the National Police Bravery Awards.
Fire broke out at Lonsdale Court sheltered housing at Pategill, Penrith, in 2016.
Because of their actions that day, police officers Ruth Coates, Chris Davies and Adrian Braniff will attend a reception and evening awards ceremony in London in July. The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.
PC Coates was on foot patrol in Penrith on the day the fire occurred and, after hearing news of the blaze over her police radio, flagged down a passing motorist who drove her to the scene.
Fire was spreading through the building and it was unclear how many people were inside. As firefighters were setting up their equipment, PC Coates ran into the building to try and help people to safety.
Her colleagues, PCs Davies and Braniff, were also battling the smoke and heat in attempts to rescue residents.
The officers worked together to get people out of the building before going back in to assist more residents.
Some doors to the flats were locked so PC Davies had to kick them open to check for residents inside. While the officers were in the building, part of the structure collapsed, so commander Inspector Kim Brennand ordered them to leave.
The officers had just finished checking the final flat and made sure the building was clear. They were all checked for smoke inhalation and any injuries they may have sustained carrying out the rescues.
A 74-year-old man, Gordon Frederick Tallentire, died in the fire, which originated in his flat.
Evacuated residents were taken to Penrith Leisure Centre after PC Coates alerted management there that they needed to put incident management plans into place. Supermarkets also provided food, clothing and medication for the people who had been evacuated from their homes.
Inspector Brennand said: “This was an extremely distressing incident with the loss of a man’s life and many other people being uprooted from their homes.
“I cannot praise enough the actions of the officers that day. Not only were they engaged in rescuing people and saving lives, but they were arranging food, clothing and fresh medication to replace that which had been lost in the fire.
“They were not only police officers — they became carers, helpers, drivers, firefighters, everything! They were outstanding. Their priority that day was to save life, and then to help those who had suffered the loss of their home.”