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Posted on 22:17:00 on 4th December 2017

Officers receiving their commendations.

A team of officers who worked to save elderly and vulnerable people during a major fire have been commended by the Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary today (4 December, 2017).

The awards were presented at a special ceremony at Roundthorn Hotel in Penrith, with the following officers being commended for their actions during and after the fire:

• Inspector Kim Brennand
• Sergeant Mark Somers
• PC Ruth Coates
• PC Christopher Davies
• PC Adrian Braniff
• PC Nigel Hamblin
• PC Nick Dumphreys
• PC Erich Thoele
• Sgt Tim Parkin (retired)

In November 2016 a fire started in a flat at a residential home in Lonsdale Court in Penrith.

Among the first to respond to the fire were Police Constables Ruth Coates, Christopher Davies and Adrian Braniff. On arrival they found a flat on fire, a building full of smoke and one person deceased.

They also found that many of the residents were still in their homes so the three went from flat to flat and room to room evacuating the addresses.

In some cases they had no option but to force entry to the properties and carry residents to safety.
Upon completion of the evacuation, 28 vulnerable and elderly people were outside in the cold and rain.

Sergeant Mark Sommers then set up a reception centre at Penrith Leisure Centre, co-ordinated a multi-agency approach and managed the centre to ensure the health and welfare concerns of those affected were prioritised.

The overall response to the incident was commanded by Inspector Kim Brennand, assisted in co-ordinating the initial multi-agency response and operation by Sergeant Tim Parkin and Police Constables Erich Thoele, Nick Dumphreys and Nigel Hamblin.

Inspector Kim 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.

“However, I cannot praise enough the actions of the officers that day. Not only were they engaged in rescuing people and saving lives, but were arranging food, clothing and fresh medication to replace that which had been lost in the fire. They were comforting distressed staff and vulnerable residents, helping them clean up and change their clothes. They wrapped them in blankets and transported people to get them to warmth and safety.

“They were not only police officers that day - 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. 

“The three officers who went into the building suffered smoke inhalation as they put their own lives at risk to save others. All whilst the building threatened to collapse around them.

“That day I witnessed the best teamwork I have ever seen and everyone involved – including other emergency responders and the local community – should be proud of their efforts.”

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