Fire pair honoured at bravery awards
Two South Wales Police officers who attempted to save the life of a man trapped in a burning building have had their courage recognised at the Police Federation’s annual national Police Bravery Awards for 2020.
The ceremony, held at a London hotel on Tuesday (12 October), saw the bravery of PC Thomas Scourfield and Sergeant Geraint Jenkins celebrated alongside 91 other nominees from 42 forces across England and Wales.
Earlier Thomas, accompanied by his brother, Rhys, and Geraint and his wife, Mandy, were welcomed to a Downing Street reception hosted by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel.
At the evening awards ceremony they were joined by South Wales Police Federation workplace representative Leigh Godfrey and South Wales Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan.
The two officers were nominated for their bravery in the face of a blaze at a property in Baglan, in which a 92-year-old man died.
Thomas was off duty when he spotted the blaze. He could hear screaming from inside the property and forced his way in to find a woman throwing water onto an elderly man who was on fire in the back yard.
He was joined by Geraint, who was on the last day of his secondment to the arson reduction unit and was in his fire service vehicle when he noticed smoke billowing from the rear of the property.
A shed was on fire and the motionless body of the elderly man was on the ground, surrounded by flames. Panels from the shed were disintegrating and falling onto the man as he lay on the floor.
Believing the windows would shatter at any moment due to the intense heat, Thomas guided the woman, who had burns to her hands and forehead, away from danger before returning to try to rescue the man.
Geraint meanwhile was unable to reach him due to the intensity of the fire. He instructed members of the household to soak towels, which he covered himself with for protection while he tried to pull the man from the fire.
The man had severe burns to his head, face and body and was not breathing. Geraint attempted CPR until the arrival of the paramedics and air ambulance doctors but, sadly, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Federation branch chair Steve Treharne said: “These two officers did everything they could to save this gentleman. They put their own lives on the line to respond to an incident that they both happened upon, with Thomas not even being on duty that day and Geraint noticing the blaze as he drove past.
“They were incredibly brave and selfless, and displayed a real commitment to serving the public and protecting the people in their communities.
“I am so pleased that the 2020 bravery awards, which were delayed due to the pandemic, have now gone ahead and that our brave officers’ efforts have been recognised.”
The 2020 Police Bravery Awards, sponsored by Police Mutual, honour some of the finest officers in England and Wales who have performed acts of bravery, while on or off duty.
South Wales falls into Region 7 for the awards, covering the four Welsh forces, and the regional winners were PC Richard Shea and PC Matthew Reynolds of North Wales.
The overall national winner was PC Stuart Outten from the Metropolitan Police. He suffered multiple stab wounds and skull fractures, but managed to use his Taser to disable an attacker who was armed with a machete. In the horrific attack, he suffered six deep wounds to his head, skull fractures, and two wounds to his arm and multiple finger fractures.
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We have the finest police officers in the world - dedicated public servants who, without hesitation, put themselves in danger to protect others.
“They are humble, professional and committed individuals who I am proud to call my colleagues. Police officers are everyday heroes who are anything but ordinary. My congratulations go to PC Outten and all the Police Bravery Awards nominees. They deserve every bit of recognition they receive.”