Officer who saved two from arson attack wins police bravery award – Police Bravery Awards 2014 – Winner (Midlands Region)
October 17, 2014, 6:00 pm
A Staffordshire Police officer who saved two men after carrying them from a burning building has won a prestigious police bravery award.
Showing immense bravery, resolve and determination, PC Roger French risked his own life by going into the property three times to eventually pull the two men to safety.
PC French has now been crowned winner of the midlands region Police Bravery Award at a ceremony in central London attended by the Home Secretary, police minister Mike Penning and Met Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, among other dignitaries. He was presented with the award by Jack Dromey, shadow police minister.
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PC French had been on routine patrol in Newcastle-under-Lyme on the evening of 19 July 2014 when he was called to the building; when he arrived it was well ablaze. Calling for urgent assistance, the father of one made his way to the back of the property which gave access to the two flats in the building.
The door to the ground floor flat was open and PC French could see the room was filled with thick, dark smoke from the fire which had been started deliberately. Through the smoke he made out the silhouette of a man sitting on the bed with his head in his hands.
He ignored PC Frenchs shouts to get out so the officer got down low and made his way into the room, edged towards the man and reached out but he pulled away, threatening him.
The thick acrid smoke was making it difficult to see or breathe and PC French had to briefly go back out for some air before another desperate bid to get the man out. This was incredibly challenging as he continued to resist and eventually the officer had to physically remove him for his own safety.
PC French then focussed his efforts on the flat above when he was told someone was in there. He had to kick the door in to gain access where he found an elderly man at the top of the stairs and assisted him to safety.
Earlier in the day, PC French joined 65 of his colleagues from 31 forces round the country for a reception at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister David Cameron as a mark of recognition for their heroic acts.
PC French said: “Its quite overwhelming and very humbling listening to the stories tonight. I dont feel that what I did was brave – its what everyone here tonight would have done. As police officers you go to all kinds of scenarios and it sounds clichéd but you are used to experiencing these things. As police officers you almost expect to have serious incidents like this to deal with. These events are good for morale, even for those officers who are not involved. Its a fantastic experience – something that you would never imagine being involved in.”
Steve White, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “I am constantly humbled and amazed by the selfless acts of bravery carried out by police officers on a day to day basis. For every act of courage and bravery recognised in the Police Bravery Awards there are hundreds more that occur in our communities every day that go unrecognised. Each nominee is a credit to the police service and to the community they serve.”
Stephen Mann, CEO, Police Mutual, said: “Every day, police officers across the country face incredibly difficult and dangerous situations, acting with real heroism to protect the lives of others. All of the officers nominated for an award have shown great dedication to their duty and remarkable courage. Police Mutual is honoured to continue our sponsorship of the Police Bravery Awards for the sixth consecutive year and we give our sincere thanks to the men and women who keep us all safe.”