Officers who entered burning flat nominated for bravery award

Police officers who risked their own safety trying to find a knife attacker in a burning flat and rescuing his neighbours have been nominated for a national bravery award.

Officers from neighbouring Gwent and South Wales forces worked together to track down a man with paranoid schizophrenia suspected of stabbing his father with a kitchen knife.

South Wales Police firearms officers PC Luke Francis and PC James Ruise went to the suspect’s home in Nelson, Caerphilly.

They were observing the property while other firearms units came to support and saw smoke coming from an upstairs window.



Worried for the safety of anyone inside the officers, now accompanied by an anonymous officer from Gwent Police, entered the upstairs flat. It was heavily engulfed in flames and thick smoke from a burning mattress in the bedroom.

The three officers made a number of attempts to enter the bedrooms to check if anyone was trapped, but were fought back by the increasing intensity of the flames and dense smoke.

Fire extinguisher

The officers tried to control the blaze using fire extinguishers but eventually had to withdraw from the property.

The citation for the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Bravery Award nomination, said: “In total, the officers were in the burning flat for a total of eight minutes, improvising search tactics – sometimes on hands and knees – while simultaneously keeping a firearm pointed at the possible location of an armed subject.”

Meanwhile, due to the threat of the fire spreading, Sergeant Geraint Hopkins and PC Ashley Joseph, of Gwent Police, carried out searches of adjacent properties and evacuated two people and a dog.

The nomination citation continued: “After around an hour of firefighting the flames, a compromise tactical plan was created which resulted in Sergeant Hopkins, PC Joseph, PC Ruijs and PC Francis entering the property with partial respirators, supplied by the fire service.


“The search was particularly dangerous due to the ongoing threat, smoke and a degrading structure with a possibility of collapse. On three occasions the officers were held back due to the flames re-igniting within the property.”

At the same time, work by the Force control room and a negotiator had resulted in a phone call with the suspect, who was nearby and hiding.

The suspect agreed to give himself up and was arrested for grievous bodily harm and arson with intent to endanger life.

The five officers have all been nominated for a PFEW Bravery Award.

Their citation said: “The officers on this occasion demonstrated the utmost bravery showing unbelievable courage and the highest levels of public service putting their lives before that of another.”

Lives at risk

Vice-chair of South Wales Police Federation Phil Walker said: “Every day, police officers put their lives on the line to protect members of the public. This is, without a doubt, an example of that. 

“Each of the officers nominated demonstrated undeniable bravery and courage, on so many levels, that day. All of them put their own safety at risk to save the lives of others. 

“We are very proud of our nominations, and with them every success at this year’s ceremony.”

The event, which is held annually by the Police Federation of England and Wales, will take place on 11 July in London.

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