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Shirley Towers inquest: Firefighters 'forgotten' in flat

  • 6-30-2012

An inquest into the death of two Southampton firefighters has heard how they "seemed to have been forgotten about" after going in to tackle a fire.

Jim Shears and Alan Bannon were overcome by excessive heat inside flat 72 of Shirley Towers on 6 April 2010.

Martin Seaward, representing the FBU and their families, told the court that "more could have been done".

The commander in charge said crews may have taken potentially fatal risks if he had raised the alarm earlier.

The jury at Southampton Civic Centre previously heard that "BA emergency" - meaning firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are in trouble - was not called until 21:08 BST.

That was nearly half an hour after Mr Bannon and Mr Shears - known as Red Two - had entered the flat and there had been no radio communication from them.

Addressing the jury, Mr Seaward said: "Red Two seemed to have been forgotten about over these critical minutes. That's how it seems to the families.

"They may be wrong, it may be the evidence shows Red Two were being thought about all the time.

'Risks are taken'

"But what appears to be unravelling at this inquest is that the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing and there was a general breakdown of communication of important facts and important and relevant information.

"I'm trying to explore what was going on because this witness [group manager Tony Deacon] told you there really would not have been much difference between a BA emergency being called because [what could be done was being done].

"Other witnesses have said much the same.

"That is what I'm addressing. It is my submission that more could have been done."

Mr Deacon, senior commander in charge that night, said he stood by his actions.

He said: "I've attended many critical incidents over many years with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, none more important than when persons are reported.

"You can imagine the adrenaline of the team being committed in that scenario, little things get forgotten as people rush to save lives. Risks are taken.

"I was on the floor with a team of people whose best friends were in trouble.

"Sometimes I'm required to make tough decisions. I believe if I had called a BA emergency at that time, further officers would have lost their lives."

The inquest continues.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2012 BBC

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